NEHEMIAS TJERNAGEL – AN AFFECTIONATE BIOGRAPHY
By Neelak Serawlook Tjernagel
After the death of Uncle Nehemias, Aunt Bertha gave me some of his personal effects. These included books, papers, and his personal scrapbook. Some of this material, about two cardboard boxes full, was placed in the archives of the Iowa State Historical Society at Iowa City, Iowa. I kept the personal letters and the scrapbook. This priceless collection of about 150 photographs, as many magazine and newspaper clippings, and numerous typed commentaries is a comprehensive history of Follinglo Farm and its people.
Now that I have finished the pleasant task of writing Unko's biography, his letters, papers, and scrapbook are going back to Follinglo Farm to the custody of Michael Tjernagel.
A copy of this short history of Unko's life is my personal greeting to each of my brothers and sisters and cousins, all of us his nieces and nephews.
Neelak Tjernagel 0-60 Park Lawn Apts. Honeoye, N.Y. 14471 1 January 1976
No one in the first decade of our century cut quite as wide a swath, in a swashbuckling era, as our own vigorous and flamboyant Theodore Roosevelt -- Teddy or T.R. to friend and foe alike. Alive and full of energy to every nerve ending, he captivated the fancy of people everywhere and gave cartoonists a field day in his meteoric career.
The Cuban "Rough Rider," exhilarated by popular acclaim in the Spanish American War, and sworn in as Vice President of the United States in 1900, was precipitated into the Presidency itself by the assassination of President McKinley on 6 December 1901.
He could hardly wait for the next election to serve as President under a head of steam generated by his own election. His first opportunity for presence on a world stage came as a result of the Russo-Japanese War, which had begun in February 1904. It was the wrong war at the right time. 1914 was ten years in the future. The major powers wanted the war stopped. It was Teddy Roosevelt who took the initiative and brought Russia and Japan to the conference table in the unlikeliest of places, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on 9 August 1905. A treaty of peace was written, hostilities ended, and T.R. was a world hero, the first President to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
As head of a great nation which was bursting with prosperity and "feeling its oats," Roosevelt followed his triumph as a peacemaker by sending the United States fleet on a grand tour of the world. It was to sail the seven seas and visit every continent in a highly publicized gesture of good will, muscle, and peaceful intentions. Roosevelt's prescription for peace was to "speak softly and carry a big stick." The grand fleet, the greatest massing of naval power that had ever been seen, steamed out of Hampton Roads on 16 December 1907. No one viewed T.R.'s big show as a menacing gesture. The fleet was wildly cheered at enthusiastic receptions around the world, all continents and most major ports getting a view of American sea power. The fleet returned 22 February 1909, just a few days before the inauguration of William Howard Taft, T.R.'s successor in the Presidency.
What would the youngest ex-President in American history do now? Rapturous cheers greeted him three weeks later as he embarked on the most ambitious and publicized hunting trip in history. Agents in England and Africa provided porters, servants, and the formidable gear required for a massive African safari to secure specimens for the Smithsonian Institution. Roosevelt received advance royalties of $50,000.00 for a book he was to write about the great adventure. T.R. and his son Kermit sailed from Hoboken, New Jersey, on 23 March 1909. A year of hunting yielded a bag of 3,000 skins, including Roosevelt's own 296 trophy specimens, among them 9 lions, 5 elephants, 13 rhinoceroses, and 7 hippopotamuses.
The safari had lasted eleven months, and Colonel Roosevelt emerged from the jungle in March 1910, his heroic stature immensely enhanced. Invitations to visit European capitols were showered on him and he set out on a new kind of safari, which ended with attendance as representative of the United States at the funeral of Edward VII of England. It was an event later to be described as the last great gathering of European royalty. T.R. was conspicuous, the only national envoy not resplendant in a bemedaled military uniform.
Before leaving the White House, Roosevelt had promised to deliver the Romanes Lecture at Oxford and had agreed to appear in Norway to receive the Nobel Peace Prize awarded five years earlier. His wife had joined him at Khartum as the hunting ended and together they made the grand tour of European capitols. The Rough Rider and African hunter had become a kind of folk hero to prince and peasant alike.
No hero since Garibaldi had been so wildly acclaimed by the Italians. Emperor Francis Joseph entertained the Roosevelts lavishly at the Schonbrunn. On 23 April the Colonel lectured at the Sorbonne in Paris. There were royal welcomes in Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, and in Holland where a starchy queen bent before the hero of all peoples. In May he was in Christiania (now Oslo) to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. The city was decked out in all its finery. A special musical program of American band music had been prepared by Ole Olsen, the head of Norway's military music.
On 5 May, the day of the prize ceremonies, a skinny Iowa farmer in thread-bare coat, bowler hat, and rubbers stood at the curb watching the parade - the Nobel officials, the royal carriages, and Theodore Roosevelt and his wife passing in review. The band numbers were classical American compositions including the "Star Bangled Banner" as the director, Ole Olsen, called it. One number had been written and rehearsed in honor of the hero Roosevelt. It was named "Roosevelt Overture." No notice was taken that day of Nehemias Tjernagel, the composer of that overture. No one could have imagined that the emaciated young man from Story City, Iowa, looking and listening so intently, had any claim to special attention on Roosevelt's great day in Christiania.
I. NEHEMIAS AT HOME
28 March 1868-- Late June 1892
Nehemias Tjernagel was born in rural Iowa, near Story City, on 28 March 1868. His birthplace, Follinglo Farm, had been established in 1864 when his parents, Ole Andrias and Martha Karina Tjernagel, came to Iowa with an infant son, Lars Johann (Lewis). The young couple had been married in the Fox River Norwegian settlement near Ottawa, Illinois, in 1861, and came to Iowa to make their home on the fertile prairie land which Ole Andrias had purchased for four dollars an acre on a previous trip in 1859. A neighbor helped to build a 14 by 20 foot house which, with many later additions, was to be Nehemias Tjernagel's home for the 90 years and 50 days of his life. The farm, complete with a homestead and a primitive barn, was called Follinglo in remembrance of the former home of Nils Anderson, Mrs. Tjernagel's father, who had come to America from Follinglo, in Valders, Norway. In due course five more sons, and one daughter, were to be added to the Tjernagel family. They were Peter, Nehemias, Henry, Martin, Bertha, and Gustav.
Peter later recalled the beginnings of Nehemias' life. "Our brother Nehemias was one of those unfortunates to whose lot it fell to do a lot of crying. He was rather puny and never felt just right. This gradually paved the way for a nervous disposition, and this in turn, probably urged on by a gentle hint in the form of teasing from his older brothers, caused an abnormal amount of crying. After having lived nearly half a century I can still close my eyes and see how mother used to lug this poor child around while performing her household duties."
Nehemias' "pedestrian" instincts were apparent very early, as Peter remembered. "After Nehemias got to be about three years old his roaming nature commenced to assert itself. His first trip on his own hook came very nearly costing him his life. It came about in this manner: Father, like the rest of the early settlers, hastened to plant willows around their farms. Their idea was to get a high hedge that would answer as windbreak and fence as well. Well, a local prairie fire was approaching some of father's fresh shoots, and he started out post haste, his manly vigor fairly brimming over, to put in his best licks in defense of his property, not knowing that this little urchin of a traveler had sneaked away from mother, bent upon nothing else than following father to the scene of action. It was so ordained that this fire was not very far away from our schoolhouse where Lewis and I attended school. We were supposed to be busy with our lessons, but we were not so much taken up with our studies that we could not look out the windows once in a while, although it was prohibited. While performing one of these unlawful acts we noticed father fighting the fire, took in the whole situation at a glance, and by common impulse jumped out of our seats and made for the door without so much as asking permission. Lewis, being much fleeter of foot than I, soon left me behind. I plodded along the best I could, and got there just in time to see Nehemias walking along through the tall prairie grass right in front of the fire which was traveling along at a rapid rate. I started to yell and bawl at the same time, thinking that I might be able to attract father's attention, but he could not hear through the raging fire. I knew what I had to do, and that I had to do it quickly. I had to run around the east wing of that fire.
"It was easy to run where the grass was burned away, but when I came to run in front of that fire through the tall grass it was entirely a different proposition. I was noted for being very clumsy, and the slight est obstruction in my path would, as a rule, be enough to make me meet the earth, not half ways, but fair and square and at full length. But this time, for a wonder, I did not fall more than half a dozen times before I got within reach of Nehemias. I grabbed him and started to run. The first thing he did was to fall down. I did not have time to raise him up, I had to drag him. Now we both cried so that the tears blinded me and it was just as well, because the fire was gaining on us fast, and the tongues of fire made some desperate lurches as if to grab his gingham dress. Just then, without knowing anything about it, I backed right into a pond and we were safe. After the fire had swept everything clean around us, father noticed us in the pond. The willow shoots were very abruptly left to the tender mercy of the flames, and his whole attention was given to his own tender shoots, which looked as though they had grown right out of the pond."
In a few more years Nehemias followed his brothers to the same Sheldall rural school. During those school days music was developing as the dominant interest of the Tjernagel and the neighboring Henderson boys and their families. Ole Andrias Tjernagel played the accordian, and he and his wife often sang to their children. One of the Sheldall teachers, who boarded at Follinglo, was Capt. W.A. Wier, the first music teacher in the Tjernagel home. He gave Lewis the rudiments of organ playing, advancing him to the point where he could play "Grant's March" on the family reed organ. Hans Dale, another teacher, taught four part singing. Peter Tjernagel and three neighbor boys formed a quartette that sang at church and at other public gatherings.
Nehemias was barely in his teens when three Tjernagel and four Henderson boys organized the Riverside (Skunk River) Orchestra. There were four violins, a flute, and the clarinet assigned to Nehemias. But bigger things were to come. In 1885 the orchestra was expanded into what came to be the Riverside Band. There were now four Tjernagels and five Hendersons and eight other farm musicians who organized under the leadership of Nehemias, and later that of Peter Tjernagel. As their musicianship matured they secured the leadership of a Herman Hagen and then the distinguished musician Prof. Anton Pederson. Some of their concerts were conducted by John Dahle, the gifted musician, composer, editor, author, and teacher. His obituary notice in the Lutheran Herald, Minneapolis, 11 August 1931, included these words: "Special mention must be made of his work in Story City, Iowa, where he greatly influenced the development of the well-known Tjernagel family."
The Riverside Band became a popular feature in public events in and about Story City, and throughout Iowa. Their concerts in the 1880's and the 1890's carried them as far from home as Chicago, where they played to a crowd of many thousands of people at Comisky Park, the home of the White Sox. Charles Comisky greeted them personally and gave them conveyance in his own limousines.
In 1886 Nehemias gave up the companionship of the band boys to attend one term at what was then known as the Iowa Agricultural College at Ames, Iowa. He played his clarinet in the college band and took piano lessons from Miss Anna Gaff, a graduate of the Leipzig Conservatory of Music. She was so much impressed with her pupil's musical talent that when she learned a lack of means would not permit him to attend the next term at . the college she wrote: "I feel so disappointed that you cannot return here. I have a proposition to offer you. If you could afford to return here and pay your board, your tuition in music will cost you nothing. I will gladly give you your lessons, practice hours, and sheet music, without pay. I think so much of your talent and energy that I feel so sorry to have you unable to go on with it. I would like to give you pipe organ lessons this term, and if you learn to play, you can obtain a place in some church as organist, which will benefit you more, and is of a higher standard than to play in a band as you mentioned. Write to me at Ames at once, for I take a most earnest interest in your talent. Your friend, Anna Gaff, 1 March 1887."
Unfortunately Nehemias was not able to return to Ames in spite of Miss Gaff's most generous offer. Though he had been the butt of no little hilarity and practical joking, including being hit in the eye with an onion during a concert, at least one other person at the college had taken his musical abilities seriously. Nehemias recalled a notable jam session in his quarters: "Late one evening Chamberlain, the college president, made a surprise visit to my simple basement room where the beds were still unmade since the night before and everything was in disorder. But Prexy didn't seem to mind a bit and proceeded to pull out his flute for a little session amongst ourselves, with me on the clarinet and another available performer on the cello. The flutist led off in decidedly amateur fashion and a fine time was had by all."
The time had come when, music or no, Nehemias had to go to work. He accepted employment as cashier in the Citizens Bank of Story City, but continued his interest in music by taking organ lessons from Prof. John Dahle and singing in his choir. He also associated himself with Gustav Amlund in church and choral singing. The proprietors of the Citizens Bank were his brother Lewis Tjernagel and partner, John Swan. In his personal notes Nehemiah grumbled that a salary of $40.00 a month, with board and lodging in his brother's home deducted, did not leave much reserve for savings toward the dream of entering the Leipzig Conservatory of Music. Yet, he adds, his employers treated him well and he did have leisure during that employment to write two of his most popular compositions, the "Story City Overture" and the "Daily News Waltz."
His next brief employment was with a publishing firm in Minneapolis. In this city he found a place for his virtuosity on the clarinet and played in the popular Ringwall Band, which appeared regularly at a summer resort at Lake Harriet.
In the meantime his brother Lewis's business interests had expanded to include the firm of L.J. Tjernagel and Company working under the Chicago Livestock Commission at the Union Stockyards. Nehemias joined the business as a bookkeeper and promptly registered for clarinet lessons at the Chicago Musical College. He attended many concerts in the city and personally met the famed Flo Ziegfeld. He recalls that he heard Chicago's "crack" Second Regiment Band, directed by Weldon, playing his "Story City Overture" at the Chicago Armory.
While working as bookkeeper in Chicago he lived and boarded in the home of Nels B. Jacobs, a member of the L.J. Tjernagel firm, the head salesman in the Chicago Livestock Commission. Here he was to incur a serious illness. He had previously had scarlet fever and believed that an aftermath of that illness had been defective eyesight which made it difficult for him to face artificial light. And now, in the spring of 1892, he got a very serious case of typhoid fever. It was regarded as so serious that both his parents went to Chicago to be with him. Mrs. Jacobs was nursing him with all the attention she would have given her own child. Nehemias' personal memorabilia include pictures and the mention of two young ladies, also boarders in the Jacobs home, who assisted during his illness: "Have always felt grateful to Minnie Polders, office worker in Chicago, who helped Mrs. Jacobs, with whom she boarded, while 1 was sick with typhoid. She was a kindly dispositioned girl, and was often the life of the party in the Jacobs household. Mrs. Lonas, a kind, attractive woman, also helped during my sickness. Blessings on cheerful nurses."
It was during his siege of typhoid fever that disaster, as serious as the threat of an earlier prairie fire, nearly destroyed him. One of the Jacobs children gave him a dose of diluted carbolic acid to drink by mistake. He later remembered, "it burned like fire. Typhoid fever left me with a more or less permanently deranged colon." And so it was indeed to be. He was to live out the 90 years of his life in a state of precarious health, and in an attitude of reliance on others for the provision of the basic needs of his life.
On recovering from his illness Nehemias quit the Stockyards and returned for a few months of employment at the Citizens Bank in Story City. In late June he was on the high seas sailing for Europe.
He was in his 24th year. Many in the Norwegian American community thought that he had a brilliant future before him. Gisle Bothne, a prominent Norwegian publisher in America, inspired the following item in a New York music magazine, The Keynote, August 1892 issue.
"N. TJERNAGEL This talented young musician is a Norseman by blood and descended from the Vikings. His parents came from Norway 35 years ago and settled in Iowa, where the subject of our sketch was born. He is only 24 years of age, but has already become widely known from his compositions, notably his 'Story City Overture' for large military bands, which is a great favorite. Since childhood he has had a passion to compose, the result of which is many songs, waltzes, piano pieces, etc., of originality and musical worth. Helen Ashland Kean has just written for him a 'rune' entitled 'Leif Erickson,' to which he will write the music as soon as the inspiration seizes him. Mr. Tjernagel is a performer on organ, piano, and almost every orchestral instrument, and has played indifferent bands. He was elected the leader of the Riverside Cornet Band which afterwards became one of the best in Iowa. Mr. Tjernagel is now on a visit to Norway, from whence he goes to Leipzig to stay probably three years. He will devote himself principally to the study of harmony, composition, and organ playing. From this cultivation of a rich artistic gift, we may expect great things in the future."
What a send-off for this lean son of the prairie, just barely recovered from typhoid fever, suffering from impaired vision and a deranged colon, and lacking in available financial resources.
7 July 1892-- 7 June 1893
As Nehemias crossed the Atlantic on the S.S. Alaska in June and July of 1892, he could not have been aware that the United States was rushing toward the Panic of 1893, the worst depression the nation had known in the 19th century. While he was at sea the Democrats were in Chicago nominating Grover Cleveland for the Presidency. The Populist Party candidate represented disaffected farmers, laborers, and other minorities. By the time the new President, the Democrat Cleveland, was inaugurated the following March, the Panic was in full bloom and the debate on silver and gold currencies was in full flower. A severe drop in the federal gold reserve and heavy losses on the stock market triggered a massive unemployment rate of 20 per cent, and that at a time when the labor market included very few women. There were wholesale bankruptcies and a devastating collapse in commodity prices.
Nor was it a problem merely seen from afar. Lewis Tjernagel, Nehemias' oldest brother, lost his businesses and financial investments and Follinglo Farm was mortgaged to the hilt.
It was not a propitious time for our wandering traveler in Norway, dependant, as he was, for remittances from his family at home. Yet, his accounting of the funds he did have can only fill us with wonder. His expenditures for the first two months reflect a Spartan outlay:
$17.00 Rail fare to New York
7.00 Stay in New York
36.00 Passage to Liverpool
5.00 Mattress and quilts
2.50 Liverpool to Hull, England
8.00 Passage to Stavanger and stay there
2.00 Trip to Tjernagel
4.00 Trips around Tjernagel
5.00 Stay at Bergen
2.25 Stay at Voss
2.25 Stay at Ulvik
2.50 Return to Bergen
6.00 Hodnefjeld Saeter
6.50 Stay at Vossevangen
A total of $107.00 represents his total expenditure in the first two months of his travels. It was a tight budget, and things were going to get tighter as the Panic of 1893 worsened. His expenditures for the first whole year were to total only $300.00.
During his first six months in Norway Nehemias was an insatiable tourist. A professional career in music appears to have occupied very little of his attention. Letters home described the wonders of the scenery in Norway. A newspaper travelogue (70 column inches long) in the Iowa State Register for Sunday, 22 January 1893, written in October 1892, told his story under the heading FROM IOWA TO NORWAY. The following subheads were appended: "An entertaining letter from a representative and highly intelligent Norwegian." "Incidents from the voyage across the Atlantic-Characteristics of the various classes of passengers," and "Arrival on the other side and observations in Great Britain--First sight of the Fatherland and incidents of travel therein."
The first reference in the article, as may be expected, was to the sea-sickness which, mercifully, lasted only a day or two. Nehemias had bought a steerage ticket, but found the accommodations unsatisfactory and indulged ten dollars of his meagre financial resource for promotion to second class. "The steerage passengers," he wrote, "were kept in a dark dreary place in the lower part of the ship and were allowed to promenade only on the lower deck. The second class passengers had better treatment, and were allowed to be on the upper deck and breathe the same air as the saloon passengers, but were partitioned off from these with a rope, however. Our fare was not remarkable for variety. We had soup very often. It was very thin.
"We occupied staterooms," he continues [and note the precise nautical terms], "in the hind part of the ship, and were stowed away five or six together. In our room there were two talkative Englishmen, one witty Scotchman, one toothless, red-haired individual who looked like an Irishman, a Norwegian Methodist minister, and myself. While the minister lay on his knees in prayer, the funny Scotchman would crack jokes and swear like a good fellow for the Irish man, who did nothing but show his lonesome tooth and laugh. The two English men vied with each other in telling funny stories and anecdotes. They talked so fast and had such queer dialects that I could hardly understand them. The English can't talk English anyway. They drop their h's and swallow their r's. The second class passengers had more fun than all the others combined."
After a voyage of eight days on the Atlantic Nehemias and his fellow passengers disembarked at Liverpool, England, where, he says, "A few of us set out to do the town. Liverpool is the largest maritime commerce port in the world. It is a noisy bustling place like Chicago, though smaller." The next morning he left Liverpool for the rail trip to Hull, the embarkation point for the voyage from England to Norway. He says, "We were placed in cars something like hen coops, and hurled across the country at lightning speed. England is a charming, well-cultivated country, with lots of ancient castles and old-fashioned towns." There was no time for sightseeing at Hull. Nehemias boarded the S.S. Eldorado, which was carrying "quite a number of English tourists. They all wore knee-breeches. We spent a night and a day at sea."
The landing at Stavanger, Norway, was at noon, and Nehemias soon found suitable lodgings. In a letter home he summed up his initial impressions: "After getting used to the manners and customs of Norway you don't think them so strange after all, and as to getting used to the food, I will say it is the easiest thing in the world, for the very first thing you do after setting foot on Norwegian soil is to get very hungry." He found Stavanger a "neat little town" with "crooked streets." It was filled to overflowing because of a mission meeting that included many foreign visitors, among them the well known American Lutheran clergymen Stub and Rasmussen.
During the passage across the great seas Nehemias had developed a number of small boils on his wrist. The local curative prescribed a bath in salt water. During the night after this bath he had nightmares and awoke to find a red streak running up his arm. Consultation with a doctor revealed that his salt water bath had led to blood poisoning. The physician assured him that he had come in time to prevent the infected blood from reaching his heart.
A letter sent home from Stavanger told of a chance meeting with a relative from Milwaukee and his aunt, Barbru Anderson. On their invitation he moved to their hotel "where we all sleep in the same room. Barbru took this quite for granted since it is a large room with separate sleeping places."
On 17 July Nehemias mailed his first letter from Tjernagel, Norway. For an impression of what the place looked like, see the following illustration, a drawing by E. Bjorn which appeared in Nehemias' Walking Trips in Norway (Columbus, Ohio: Lutheran Book Concern, 1917). As he wrote his letter Nehemias was in the house in which his father had been born. He described "the living room of the house in which Store Per, his brother, and his sisters Gondla, Helga, and Larsine spent their childhood and early youth. The same floor and walls are here, and the same old never-to-beforgotten stove. Its age is at least 200 years. The table where father ate his last meal before going to America is yet in use and has not been altered since he left. As I look through the window toward the north I see a majestic mountain in the distance beyond the Boemmel Fjord. This is Siggen where mother, as a girl of ten, performed the difficult feat of climbing to its very top. I can see across the fjord to Andal. To the eye, at first glance, this opposite shore of the fjord seems scarcely more than a mile distant, while in reality it is more than seven miles away. The water is smooth as glass and the setting sun between the hills reflects a golden highway across the fjord. In clear weather the famous Folgefond (glacier) shows its distant skyline toward the east. In the foreground and during certain atmospheric conditions the tiny islands called Napholmadne seem to lift themselves above water, mere specks. On rowing out to them they appear quite large and formidable, and firmly set on the fjord bottom.
"On the slope of Sletta mountain, not far distant, is a natural stone hut, cave rather, called Anders Huse where father and many others had rested when herding sheep in the olden days. I carved my name there." [A note from the present writer: When I visited this spot in 1960, 68 years later, I found Nehemias' carved name and the names of many other American Tjernagels who have visited the place, including those of my brothers, Rolf and Lars Tjernagel. The only surviving Tjernagel at the place answered my knock on his door with the words "Wait a minute." He returned with a hammer and chisel prepared to lead me and my wife to that rock, by then so completely covered with names that it was scarcely possible to add the initials N.S.T.]
After nearly three weeks at Tjernagel our traveler, apparently not highly motivated toward musical studies, spent three months wandering about from bases at Voss and at Bergen. There was always the threat of a cholera morbus epidemic in Germany to dissuade him from any immediate pursuit of music with its attendant drudgery of practice. He was boarding with a young couple in Voss, the Rev. and Mrs. Anton Heyerdahl, whenhe wrote home on 2 August 1892:
"It seems an interposition of Providence that I did not strike out for Germany some three weeks ago. The providential cause seemed to be a pair of trousers that I bought, also a few other things, not much, but sufficient to put a crimp in my funds and make me hesitate as to my course. I finally decided to go in spite of my depleted purse, but when my boat came I just couldn't get up and go, and here I am, and no reason. My premonition, or whatever it was, served me well, as, shortly, we heard that Hamburg and Berlin were in the grip of cholera."
While boarding with the Heyerdahls at Voss, Nehemias observed a military encampment. "The parades and sham battles lasted four days. The rattle of the musketry and the reports of the great guns echoed and re echoed between the mountains and made a deafening roar."
He witnessed "a fine display of northern lights. The heavens were brilliantly illuminated, and great arms of white flame shot out from the northern horizon and stretched themselves toward us, till they were directly overhead. They approached and receded with lightning rapidity. It was a most beautiful sight to behold."
A lyrical description of a trip to Stahlheim helps to explain his continuing neglect of music. Leaving lodgings early in the morning he and a companion for the day encountered a fog, "but it soon lifted and turned into a beautiful white cloud which sailed away between the moun tains. The weather became beautiful. We had struck one of nature's own holidays. The birds sang and twittered in the trees, and the babbling brooks and leaping waterfalls mingled their sounds in harmony. Even the hills seemed to respond and take part in the general gladness as they sent their echoes flying back and forth. The distant stately peaks, with their tops of perpetual snow, contrasted beautifully with the sunlit smiling valleys below.
"The scenery at Stahlheim is grand and awe-inspiring. The dark barren mountains rise to great heights and frown down in stately grandeur on the valleys below. The beautiful road at Stahlheim which winds in zig-zag up the mountain side is a marvel of road building. The celebrated Stahlheim hotel stands near the edge of a chasm which is over a thousand feet deep, and overlooks the beautiful valleys on the front and left. A number of noted men, Kaiser Wilhelm, Grant, Gladstone, Vanderbilt, and others, have visited the place on their tours."
Beautiful the scenery at Voss might be, but a depleted purse was grim reality. Nehemias described, with no little pique, the "cheap hotel" where he had his first lodgings, and recalled that due to "delayed mail" he was "running out of money" and was "asked to leave" when his bill became too far delinquent. "That Lidsheim (Hotel) Shylock" even imposed the crowning indignity: "They kept my trunk as security." A kind friend, the Rev..N.R. Heyerdahl "loaned me a few kroner so that I might take my trunk with me upon paying the measly little bill. I gave Heyerdahl my watch as a pawn." Nehemias often went on walks with Rev. Heyerdahl and accompanied him when he went on his pastoral calls. Mrs. Heyerdahl (shades of a 20th century women's lib movement) was then the only "theological lady student graduated in Norway."
After his experience at the "cheap" Lidsheim Hotel Nehemias boarded with a Nagel family who were most solicitous of his welfare. Mrs. Nagel dyed his overcoat and suggested that it was fit only to be worn when he was "roughing it," certainly not in the presence of persons of distinction. He described his improved appearance resulting from dyeing his hat also and added: "They turn pants to get the maximum of wear out of them. I tried it with my gray pants and look like a new man."
Explaining his continued wanderings Nehemias assured his parents that there was no cholera in Norway. It is "on the decline in Russia, but is yet raging in Hamburg. All traffic from there has been cut off by the Norwegian coast cities." He was on his way to Bergen.
Nehemias spent two brief periods in this coast city during his first six months in Norway. The trip from Voss in August 1892 gave him the opportunity to see the lively Hardanger region with its mountains, fjords, and waterfalls as he traveled on the 80 miles of the famous Voss Railway "with its 28 tunnels." He engaged a one-horse vehicle for a sightseeing trip at Graven in Hardanger. "The self-willed nag trotted along to suit himself, while we sat with open mouths gulping in the scenery."
"Bergen," he wrote, "is an agreeable place to be in -- when it doesn't rain. A man is much better off without a hat here than without an umbrella." In Bergen, in October 1892, Nehemias roomed with a young musician for about two weeks. As usual, he spent much time walking and, occasionally, attending concerts, especially the free concerts in the park where the Brigade Band of Bergen regularly played. On 23 October he wrote home: "Turning from esthetic raptures inspired by scenery, let me tell you that I was a bit moved the other day by the fact that Brigade Musikken played my 'Story City Overture' and 'Daily News Waltz' in the park. The music seemed to appeal to these crowds, since both pieces are being played again and again."
But for all this, his health was never far out of mind. "I am going to fight nervousness and indigestion with exercise, and, of course, a substantial diet. Wish I could get a heavier overcoat, but hope to slide through the winter with what I have."
At the end of October Nehemias wrote from Bergen saying that he hoped to leave for Germany about Christmastime. He had shrugged off sister Bertha's suggestion that he might better be studying music in Bos ton than to be careening around Europe. To that he responded: "Considering the gain in my health, my extensive journeyings, cheapness of living [he had lived on a budget of $60.00 from mid-August to December], and excellence of instruction, I prefer to continue in Europe for a while. Even if I should try to escape cholera by coming back to America now, who knows but that I might get caught by something else, even in Boston."
Though he enjoyed the flattery of people who could not believe that a man who had lived his entire life in America could speak such fluent Norwegian, he complained that even in Norway he found very few people who were able to pronounce the name Tjernagel.
By November Nehemias was back at Tjernagel with Aunt Barbru. On at least two occasions he walked the 18 miles distance from Tjernagel to Haugesund. On one of these trips he put up at a lodging house with a friend, where they "devoured most of the food supply. But the host had his revenge in the form of an army of fleas that invaded our beds." At Christmas 1892 he was still at Tjernagel and far removed from musical studies. He had dug a ditch for Aunt Barbru, gone fishing and hunting with cousin Bendick, and gone skating with a family of friends.
The financial picture at home had not improved and money was not forthcoming for the trip to Germany, so Nehemias betook himself to Foerde where he secured lodgings in the Solheim Parsonage, the home of Rev. and Mrs. Anton Aall and their family. A tailor, by name of Oien, who lived at Tjernagel, had called his attention to these people, mentioning "their interest in music and the higher things in life generally, not to speak of religion."
He described the home in which he was to live for the next five months: "As I entered the parsonage I was greeted by the Rev. Nils Aall, who pounced on me with a few rather irrelevant, rapid-fire questions and forthwith shunted me off into the living room where Mrs. Aall sat deeply immersed in fancy-work. She welcomed me with a smile and a reassuring beam in her piercing black eyes. She carried her 200 pounds with a dainty poise unusual in one of her weight and height. She had a commanding presence, yet a friendly manner withal, but woe to any miserable creature that incurred her just displeasure. Kathinka, the pastor's sister, a mildly unbalanced female, got on her nerves sometimes. So did her daughter Lotte, a remarkably pretty child, but of vacant mind. The 15 year old Signe was a fine looking blonde, intelligent, and unusually well dispositioned. She was the peacemaker in the family. Esther, who was engaged to a lieutenant in the army, was a tall dark beauty whose portrait hung among other outstandingly beautiful women in the art gallery at Copenhagen. She played the piano about as well as my former teacher, Miss Gaff at the Ag College at Ames, and 1 was soon installed as her pupil."
Mrs. Aall was soon mothering her emaciated boarder with great diligence. She urged him to get heavier clothing and better shoes. She punched holes in his ear lobes and put earrings in them to improve his deteriorating eyesight. On a shopping trip to Haugesund she made him wear Rev. Aall's great-coat and her own shoes. In a chance encounter on this trip Nehemias met a traveling department-head from Wanamaker's in Philadelphia. The man said he knew the Tjernagel name very well because he had often heard the "Daily News Waltz" and the "Story City Overture" at band concerts in Philadelphia.
The indefatigable Mrs. Aall continued her concern for her boarder's eyes. "Mrs. Aall syringes my eyes with tea: Can you beat that? The little gold rings in my ears haven't helped my optics so far. She is going to put some sticky plaster behind my ears to see if that might not help to strengthen my weak orbs. She loves to doctor sickly strays."
The Aall girls seem to have been fond of their eccentric boarder, whom they called "Skin" for short. They joined him in playing their musical instruments and added him to the program for a benefit concert they were giving at Haugesund for the widows of men lost at sea. And for the first time there was some seriousness about his interest in music. He said: "My appetite jollies up with exercise. I am practicing according to my strength every day. I have to exercise outside three or four hours a day so that my eyes and nerves may enjoy their daily vacation."
In March Nehemias received 111 crowns as a birthday gift from home. The Aall family arranged a birthday party in his honor. He mused: "Twenty-five years seems a long time to have lived. Not much done so far!"
In June our musician was beginning to have second thoughts about his future in Europe. In a letter to his father on 3 June 1893 he said:
"I would consider it a high privilege if I might make the intended trip to Germany and continue my studies there, but if you find it entirely too hard to find sufficient money to keep me going I might, perhaps, return and take up some kind of light work to support myself . . . . I would really hate to come back to America without first having tried my luck in Germany, having dreamt so long of going there and having gotten so far on the way as this. If things come around so I can go sometime this summer I should by all means have as much as $150.00 when I start from here."
But the money was not forthcoming and Nehemias restlessly decided that given the little money he did have, he could travel as cheaply as staying in one place. He therefore took passage on the steamer Gustav, carrying herring from Norway to Sweden. The sailing was from Haugesund on 5 June 1893 and took the ship through the Skaggerak and Kattegat and on for a brief stop at Copenhagen. Steaming on from Copenhagen the ship ran aground as it was approaching Calmar. After jettisoning some cargo it was pulled free, but a week's delay was necessitated for repairs to the hull. The diver who had gone down to inspect the damage came up cursing and swearing. When he had removed his diving gear Nehemias gave him a tract on swearing. "I expected him to bite my head off, but he thanked me profusely."
On 19 June our traveler was in Swedish waters, his ship berthed at Okseloesunde, where he disembarked for the trip by rail and canal to Stockholm. He had been studying Swedish on board ship and was hopeful of finding lodgings with a family named Moberg who had formerly lived in America, friends of his brother Peter. Here our fugitive from cholera morbus and piano practice was to remain for the next five months.
7 June 1893-- 2 November 1893
As he had hoped, Nehemias found lodging in Stockholm, Sweden, at the Bernhard Moberg home. Mrs. Moberg was a public school teacher. Bernhard was a bookkeeper who had become a friend of Nehemias' brother Peter while both were employed by an American publishing firm. Mr. Moberg had been a guest at Follinglo Farm, in Iowa, on several occasions.
It was not long before Nehemias was ranging around places of interest in the city of Stockholm. He saw the king and the queen and other members of the royal family as they drove about in their carriages. With Mr. Moberg he visited the royal palace, "the largest of the kingly palaces in Europe." He admired the city and remarked that "the neatness of this city is such that I almost hesitate to walk on the sidewalk lest I cause any untidiness."
On Midsummer's Day in June our traveler witnessed the customary lavish festivities. "The army had a grand review and paraded before the king. They performed some magnificent stunts on the parade ground. There were some 6,000 soldiers, 4,500 infantry and 1,500 cavalry. As the vast number of warriors were drilling around, Moberg and I were caught in a pocket and I do not know exactly how we managed to slip through the encircling ranks. There were horses and men who seemed to bear down indiscriminately upon us and every now and then we feared we would be engulfed. We slipped out, somehow, umbrellas and all, and since it started to rain the umbrellas proved life savers. Those rascals that so nearly marched over us got sopping wet."
On 4 July he wrote: "I am awfully homesick today. I wish I could ride with you in a lumber wagon to Story City and celebrate the glorious Fourth." He visited Ryddarholmskyrken and wandered among the "coffins of many departed kings, queens, princes, and princesses, and was filled with awe at the thought of the majesty of their lives, now but dust before me. I knew it was foolish to be afraid, but I sensed a sort of uneasy thralldom as I groped among the vaults. How soon would death announce his mastery and knock at my door?"
By early August Nehemias was behind in his payments for board and lodging again. It was especially painful because he had come to realize that the Mobergs were themselves in straitened circumstances. They had old debts and a "no good" brother of Mrs. Moberg whom they felt bound to help "when he gets in his periodic jams."
Writing to his brother Henry at college at Decorah, Iowa, Nehemias admitted to being "230 kroner behind." He added: "The Mobergs are patient with me. They give me no digs. It will be a happy day for me when I can hand them some gold. I hope the hard times are not too hard on Lewis who has so many irons in the fire."
By the end of August Nehemias' financial pressures were mounting. He wrote: "The Mobergs are nice to me and do not dun me for money, but Mrs. Moberg's brother is levying on her fearfully these days, having been on another lengthy spree. I could have stayed at Foerde with perhaps less of money concern, but the chance to take such a grand trip for the same as my regular boarding price per month was too good to pass up. Lewis said he would slip me $25.00 a while ago, but I suppose the crisis has been too much for him since he hasn't sent anything. It is a rather aimless existence here since I cannot hire a teacher nor buy music.
"I get to practice on Mrs. Bjoerkander's piano free. I do a lot of walking and have explored all the parks, and as much of the city as any curiosity-seeker may peek into without being thrown out. Perhaps I should have gone to Leipzig earlier, but since Lewis and all the rest of you advised me to take my time before occupying Germany, I have postponed the siege until now." Three days later he said: "If you find it impossible to arrange it so that I may continue here in Europe, you must let me know as soon as possible so that I may make preparations to return home."
He admitted that he had borrowed money at the Foerde bank before leaving for Sweden and said: "They would have no objection to my paying it now. I left my watch as security and am strong on watch chains, but no timepiece. I have to repair my footwear which is decidedly down at the heel. Leaving my ring as security I have been able to get new heels enabling me to continue my walking, without which I would be unable to get exercise or pass the time."
But the drought was soon to be over. On 11 September a letter was delivered to him indicating that money was on the way. A few days later $100.00 was delivered to him by a post office official and he was able to pay his arrears of 140 crowns to the Mobergs and his debt of 200 crowns at Foerde. He exulted: "I feel like a nabob strutting around with a few crowns in my pocket. Had the amount you sent me now reached me a week or so after I came here I might have undertaken to go to Germany, but, as it is, the little I have is quite insufficient to start out with on so long a journey. If you can send me as much as $50.00 by return mail I may venture forth on the trip. I am profoundly disturbed by the news of the financial panic and feel for you in your valiant efforts to raise money for me under such impossible circumstances."
At the end of September he had heard from home again and responded, "it hurt me terribly to hear of your difficult circumstances owing to the money scare in the U.S., and that you had worried so about me that you had both lain awake, even wept. How can I ever make good your loving concern for me. How can we children appreciate you half enough, considering especially the sound religious indoctrination you have been instrumental in bestowing upon us. My only consolation in respect to my trip is that if it is God's will that I shall continue He will make the efforts tolerable and, let us hope, beneficial to us all."
The same letter reported visits to museums and other places of interest in Stockholm and added: "My trunk has arrived from Foerde and I am awaiting money from home to enable me to strike out for Germany. I hope I will not have to wait too long so that by the time the money reaches me it will have been eaten up."
In early October he informed his family in America that the cholera scare was over in Germany but that a few cases had been reported in Sweden. "There is no excitement about it here since cholera is said to disappear when cold weather sets in." In a letter to his brother Peter, written a few days later, Nehemias exclaimed indignantly: "You ask me if I have gone to Germany. I am surprised that you ask that since you will remember that I was in debt nearly as much as the amount you sent me 11 September, namely $100.00. If I do not get the $65¥00 or so I expected a month ago I will be so much behind that I cannot go to Germany. This trying to study under such excruciating financial difficulties is perhaps unwise both for me and for you who have to supply the means. Had I had an inkling of what was going to happen I might have stayed on at Aall's and practiced. Here my time has been practically thrown away as far as any progress in music is concerned."
While waiting for money from home he continued his walks and his conversations with people he met. "Often I go into a little park back of this apartment where we are living and there frequently meet a retired royal coachman who drove King Oscar's own royal equipage on state occasions. He was tall and handsome, bore himself with a military mien, but was most affable and kind. He remembered serving as coachman when the remarkably beautiful princesses from Denmark came to the Swedish royal palace for a visit. They were lovable girls and were kind to the driver. The one became Queen of England (Edward VII) and the other the Tsarina of Russia. I never tired of listening to his well told tales."
A week later, on 2 November, Nehemias had his money and wrote to his father: "Your kind letter received. Indeed it was so full of goodness that I am a long way from having earned it. The Lord is good. The spell is broken. The money is here. Today I strike out for [the Baltic port of] Stettin. May God be with us all."
8 November 1893-- 4 May 1894
Nehemias arrived in Berlin on 8 November 1893, for what was really to be another six months postponement of serious musical studies. He spent a night in a "cheap hotel" and then hunted up the American Minister to Germany who referred him to the American scholar and author, Dr. Stuckenberg, "who preaches in English for American students and others who prefer English services. He was very friendly and found a place for me where the price of a room is very reasonable. I pay 13 marks per month. I prepare my own meals for the most part. The landlady brings me hot rice puddings now and then. I make cocoa on my little wood alcohol cooker. I get along pretty cheap."
He joined a German "Verein" where "a great library, gymnasium, and lectures galore are free to the members. It costs 20 cents a month in membership fees. I even can use the Verein piano for practice if I wish. Thanks to Providence things have gone well with me since I left Stockholm. I lack an overcoat for winter wear, though, the one I have being too thin to keep out the chills. If I am forced to buy one it will deplete my little hoard considerably, and I would appreciate getting the money already asked for. I am among total strangers and would have no way of getting along without any funds. I know that I can live cheaper by pinching on my lonesome than I should by paying a regular price for board as at Mobergs."
Within ten days of arrival Nehemias had decided to spend the winter in Berlin, delaying his study in Leipzig still further. He said: "I arrived too late in the season to be admitted to the Leipzig Conservatory, nor did I know enough German to get much benefit from instruction in that language. I will try to get the necessary preliminaries here. I have now made a deal with my landlady, Mrs. Kessler, to cook mush for me morning and evening. For dinner she cooks some soup for me and charges less than 4 cents for it. It is good and nourishing. I buy bread, herrings, a little butter, and a little cheese to keep company with the soup. I economize to the limit. Have even kept from making fire in the heater 8 out of 11 days. My landlady charges me a little less than 4 cents a day for heat. Do not know what a teacher will charge, or rent-price for a piano as yet. I suppose I will have to look for a comparatively low priced teacher. I must have money soon or I will be on the rocks with a vengeance."
A flow of letters shows that walks about the city and the environs of Berlin continued to be the principal feature of his life. With a faculty for making acquaintances he was often invited to symphonic, choral, and instrumental concerts. Many doors were opened for him by the violin student Arne Janson and his mother, who had previously occupied the quarters rented by Nehemias.
In a letter to his youngest brother, Gustav, at home on Follinglo Farm, Nehemias wrote feelingly about the dogs in Berlin. "Most of the larger ones serve as motive power to haul produce from the surrounding countryside into the city. They are trained to pull heavy loads and some times stretch so hard that they appear to be glued to the ground in the effort. They puff and slobber like dogs do on hot days in Iowa. They work, and no mistake. They bark like fury when they start pulling heavy loads. And the various dog teams bark at one another, causing a regular bedlam during the morning marketing hours. Sometimes they forget that they are under orders, and start fighting to the great dismay of their drivers."
A Berlin acquaintance, the wealthy son of a St. Louis brewer, took him along to the residence of a Mrs. Josephine Sheridan Hoeltzel. "She owns a pensionat and often stages tea parties for forlorn Americans. She is a niece of Gen. Phil Sheridan of Civil War fame. At her home I hired a seedy looking fellow, by the name of Hugo Argus, for a teacher. He plays well and ought to be able to bring me along on the rudiments, but I fear he isn't the man it would be best for me to employ. But he is cheap, and unless I am assured that I can pay for high priced instruction I had better keep on with him. He has one very necessary requisite for success as a pianist and teacher, namely long hair."
Piano lessons from Hugo Argus, who lived in Mrs. Hoeltzel's pensionat, made Nehemias a frequent visitor and guest in this woman's home, where"we foregathered in the evening of our busy day and had great conversational confabs over our tea cups which were filled and refilled. She was a remarkable personality both as to appearance and natural charm, and was greatly interested in music herself as well as in boosting others in their musical aspirations. She always had a kind word for me and for us all."
Nehemias became the object of some curiosity through his habit of getting exercise by a demeaning shoveling of snow or sawing wood, but it won him the friendship of workmen, "who flock around me and ask no end of questions about America. So I have my reward. From the woodyard to the refined atmosphere of the upper world, among students and such, is quite a hurdle. But I seem to make it without remark and am treated with rather unusual consideration in the bargain. Not the slightest hint of a snub have I met with."
He had attended many concerts as the guest of the Jansons and other acquaintances. When he heard the violinist Joachim, "the best living violin player," and the pianist D'Albert, "who does not trail far behind," he reported that it was the first concert for which he had personally paid the price of the ticket. It had cost him 28 cents. One of his patrons was a "Miss Buckner, who rooms on the opposite side of the hall from me. She seemed to dote on giving me a ticket to a great concert at Philharmonic Hall the other evening, and I let her. She is a very nice girl, but thanks to my lucky star she is engaged, so I can accept her sweet tokens with equanimity and even pleasure."
Christmas Eve 1894 was spent in the Stuckenberg home where many Americans were gathered. "Mrs. Stuckenberg makes homesick Americans forget their woes and acts like a substitute in place of far away mothers." After attending services on Christmas morning Nehemias went to a restaurant for his Christmas dinner and "just threw discretion to the winds and ordered a spread whether I could afford it or not. My bill was ridiculously small, for I hadn't blown myself so recklessly after all, but I was 'satt' [satiated] and happy." He heard Bach's Christmas Oratorio as "the guest of a Mr. Lord from Boston, a rich old bachelor who lives here and there in Europe most of the time. God sends us surprises when we least expect. I was wishing for a chance to hear grand music and singing of this kind, and here comes the Lord in the form of a Mr. Lord and fulfills my desire. I believe the Lord provides for the less important things in life as well as the greater things."
Nehemias also accompanied Mr. Lord to the home of Fraulein Blucher, "a lady considerably over 90 years of age." She was the daughter of Gebhard L. von Blucher, the Prussian general who assisted the Duke of Wellington in the defeat of Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo. Nehemias said, "The old maiden lady was nothing if not talkative and ran off reminiscence after reminiscence in a most delightful and engaging manner."
Others showered free concert tickets on him "so that I have had a chance to hear many fine concerts that would otherwise have been mostly out of reach. It's the funniest thing in the world that I do not have to seek company, but am sought far beyond my powers to reciprocate. I do not cringe before anybody, nor do I wish to appear to be anything."
He celebrated New Year's Eve, "Sylvester Feier," on the streets of Berlin where there was an "orgy of fun," the people acting like "good natured lunatics." But the wolf was at the door again. He paid his land lady, Mrs. Kessler, his last cent for rent, but money was on the way and on 19 January he wrote: "Thirty-six dollars received. The specter of want has quit hounding me for the time being. Thanks."
Later in January he saw Bismarck, who came to Berlin to visit the Kaiser, William II. "This was their first meeting after the young emperor froze out Bismarck from his high position as Chancellor of the Reich. The whole city was agog at his arrival, and I was one of the million or two who met him at the Thiergarten and saw him escorted by Prince Heinrich in a kingly coach to the castle. The two sat in animated conversation as they drove past yours truly. They were so taken up by themselves that I was overlooked."
On 29 January Nehemias visited the university. "We stopped in a classroom where the most noted German-Austrian Latin scholar was holding forth. This parchment-skinned lecturer was 63 years old, looked like a fossil, and had his eyes glued on a certain spot on the wall. It took him an hour to explain four lines of Latin. For all I know to the contrary it might have been a speedy performance."
Nehemias saw a performance of Faust in the Royal Opera House and remarked that the opera was "excellently rendered, stirred the audience to a high pitch of enthusiasm, but is scarcely uplifting, spiritually considered." Later he saw Tannhauser and said that both it and Faust "may well come under strong censorship as far as Christians are concerned," but added, "I did not come to Germany to enter a cloister" and continued to enjoy similar censurable performances.
Early in February he was "on the brink" again and reminded his folks at home that he had previously "stated his financial status rather explicitly." The $36.00 he had received in January was nearly gone, but people continued to be kind to him. "I enjoyed a grand concert at the great Philharmonic Hall last night. That honey-bug from Baltimore, Miss Buckler, gave me the ticket. The rascal who wormed himself into her affections hasn't shown up yet. I should worry, just so she doesn't forget to bestow upon me her surplus tickets. Last Friday evening Mr. Lord took me to a concert and gave me a dandy supper besides. Last Tuesday evening 'I attended a grand concert, thanks to Mrs.Stuckenberg,the donor of the ticket. If I don't get anything else I do absorb some harmonious essence in the musical atmosphere these kind friends bestow upon me."
On 4 March Nehemias wrote rapturously of a concert conducted by Anton Rubinstein. "I sat between a rich traveler from New Zealand and a beautiful young lady violinist (Miss Hamaker) from New York who had a harmless German on her right as escort. Both the New Zealander and the young pretty were so insistent on monopolizing my attention that I felt like a regular Faust. I do not know why that miserable escort was so neglected."
Later in March our musician, with money promised for early delivery, wrote that he had taken a more expensive piano teacher than Hugo Argus, who "is below standard in his teaching. My new teacher is Hirschberg of the Koenigliche Hochschule fuer Musik, the classiest music school in Berlin. He has put me on a beginner's platform, and I do nothing but lift and strike the keys with each finger singly without disturbing the repose of the others. Thoroughness is the watchword."
At the Janson apartment Nehemias met two young ladies from Minnesota, Olive and Marie Fremstad, the daughters of a Methodist circuit rider. 'They were friendly, as well as highly agreeable young ladies, Olive being about 23,and Marie 17 or so. At our first meeting I remember Olive being greatly elated at the prospect of soon being granted the privilege of singing a solo part with Mannstaedt's famous orchestra at Philharmonic Hall. She sang at several concerts in the city and was well received. She was a very vivacious, energetic young lady, and full of confidence in her ability to make good. She was pleased to sing a song of mine, 'Guiding Star,' at the Jansons' on one occasion.
"Marie was less in evidence, being younger, but was also gifted as a singer. Once at a concert at the Sing Akademie the usher placed me behind a pillar, which obstructed the view of the stage somewhat. Seeing this, Marie Fremstad, who had come to the concert with an elderly friend, beckoned me to come and sit in a more favored place beside her."
Olive Fremstad made her operatic debut singing Verdi's Il Trovatore at Munich the following year. Her long subsequent career at the Metropolitan in New York established her as one of the foremost dramatic sopranos during American opera's golden age in the early 1900's. Her last operatic appearance was in Lohengrin in 1914, her last concert performance in 1920. When Marie Fremstad died in 1912 Nehemias sent Olive a letter of condolence, including with it some of his compositions. She thanked him most graciously, inviting him to come and see her in New York, saying: "I shall be glad to see you and talk over the Berlin days." Nehemias later published a song, "The Departed Sister," dedicated to the memory Of Marie Fremstad.
On 1 April Nehemias wrote that "Mrs. Hoeltzel has arranged it so that I was privileged to attend the funeral of Dr. Spitta, the great writer and musician. I walked close to Joachim, the violinist, and other noted musicians. No one rode. The coffin was placed upon a low uncovered vehicle, and drawn by black crepe covered horses. It was a stirring experience."
A month later Mrs. Hoeltzel took Nehemias to the dedication of the new Luther church. "She has many acquaintances among the high toned people here and in London, and can wedge herself and her friends in dur ing affairs of this kind where ordinary people would fear to tread. She managed to get us seated in a room where we had a close-up view of the proceedings. I saw the Empress and many other royal personages who took part in the exercises. The Kaiser, with his shriveled arm and a somewhat meaner stature, looks perilously close to a figure of insignificance in her presence."
Mail from home on 4 May indicated that money was on the way. It must have arrived soon, because Nehemias' next letter was written on 9 May in Wittenberg, Germany, in the "family room of Luther and on his own table. 1 saw the famous door of the castle church and stood over his grave in the interior and passed by Melanchthon's and Bugenhagen's houses. I am bound for Leipzig."
9 May 1894-- 22 November 1894
While in Berlin Nehemias had prepared himself for future travels by going to the American embassy for his credentials. The imposing and highly embellished document, 12 by 18 inches in size, was signed by the un decipherable hand of the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America in the German Empire: It requested "all whom it may concern to permit Nehemias Tjernagel, a citizen of the United States of America safely and freely to pass, and in case of need to give him all lawful aid and protection." A comprehensive description of the subject followed: age - 26 years; stature - 5 ft. 8 in.; forehead - round; eyes - blue; nose - common; mouth - small; chin - round; hair - brown; complexion - fair; face - oval.
He bought a fourth class rail ticket from Berlin to Leipzig. The accommodations provided "no benches, so it was either to sit on my baggage or stand. A number of market women with their paraphernalia shared the accommodations with me. They were a little distant at first, but we soon warmed up to each other and had a regular picnic among the cabbage heads and other vegetables scattered among respective owners on the floor."
Arrival in Leipzig was on the evening of 9 May. After a night in a pensionat operated by a friendly woman named Mrs. Struve, our traveler found lodgings with a family named Huebel. "He has a nifty little wife and two little girls just learning to read. I do not mingle with the family and expect to board myself to begin with."
As in Berlin, Nehemias met many young Americans at the American church in Leipzig. Among his best friends during his stay in Leipzig were Etienne Cresseil, an evangelical theological student (later editor of a newspaper in Cairo and secretary to the Chamber of Deputies in Paris), and his sister. They were the son and daughter of a Protestant pastor in Paris. "They are French to the core, and look it. I doubt if I have ever seen a handsomer pair. He is supposed to learn German, while the sister came along to spend some time away from home before embarking on matrimony. She is engaged, which makes for happy association betwixt us three." All three were living under limited financial circumstances and spent many hours walking in the city and rowing in the Pleisse River. Further, as he said, "They seek my company because they can converse with me in English. You should see the natives turn and look at this strange foreign trio as we amble along the streets or roam in the woods about Leipzig. I must walk for my health and they like to while away the time."
Six days after arrival in Leipzig, Nehemias was writing, "I am in a fervently receptive mood as far as money is concerned." The litany of prayers for money continued on 9 June when he said, "I am quite bare of money and am looking for some with feverish anxiety. I am going to take a walk with Cresseil, who makes me laugh more than I want to, but who serves as a means for making me forget my cares while the fun lasts." On 15 June he wrote: "I am in an excruciatingly wishful mood concerning coin." On 17 June the drought was over. "The money is here at last, thank God!" But it did not last long. On 21 June he was requesting money again, "an immediate remittance so as to pacify the U.S. Government in some unexpected expense with my passport." Renewal of passports was required at the end of two years.
Among Nehemias' Leipzig acquaintances was a Frank Peterson, a SwedishAmerican from Augustana College at Rock Island, Illinois. "He is an advanced piano student at the Royal Conservatory of Music. He looks imposing in his Prince Albert coat. He carries himself rather proudly but isn't really stuck up. A nice fellow, built on the Lincoln order." He was later to enjoy a career as a music teacher and organist in Minneapolis.
One day while visiting a Leipzig museum Nehemias "bumped into a companion from the ocean voyage to Europe two years ago on the S. S. Alaska. His name is Anthony Lund and he is a Mormon, being the son of a certain Lund high in the affairs of the Latter Day Saints." Anthony and Nehemias became good friends in their shared interest in music. The young man was later to be the director of the famed Mormon Tabernacle Choir of Salt Lake City.
Frank Peterson introduced Nehemias to "a very fine looking young man, Milo B. Price, from Ohio. He is personally acquainted with William McKinley and is going to help boost him for the presidency in the coming presidential campaign." Later Nehemias was to correspond with this man who became president of a college in Owatonna, Minnesota.
Eventually Nehemias returned to a serious study of music and he enrolled for lessons under Bruno Zwintscher, "the most popular piano instructor at the Royal Conservatory. I am taking private lessons from himat rather long intervals (eight lessons in four months) so as to be able to pay him for the little I take."
A letter from home on 14 July described the violence in Chicago attendant on the famous Pullman strike and other labor conflicts in America. The same communication brought an urgent plea that Nehemias return home. He responded by admitting that he was not making any great progress in music, but said that though he could never hope to be a concert artist he might advance sufficiently so as to be able to give private piano lessons. Whatever his life work was to be he hoped that it might have some religious significance. This led him to say something that had been on his mind for a year and more. If he could return home via Palestine he might become a lecturer and bring to others the blessing of an eye-witness account of the sacred places of the Life of Christ. He said that the thought had originally struck him as suddenly as if a bolt of lightning had hit him. He asked, " 'Why are you called Nehemias, if not to go to Jerusalem?' I have dreamed about this for a year. I cannot drive it from my mind. I am determined to make an effort toward making this trip."
He said he was sure that a return home by way of Palestine would cost no more than his maintenance in Leipzig. He wished to go as a simple pilgrim to see the holy places in Palestine. He said he had talked to people who had traveled in that region, and especially to a Rev. G.L. Robinson who had been a missionary in Palestine, and that his journey, as planned, was quite practical and feasible.
In early August Nehemias was pleading with his family to get in touch with American postal authorities to trace a remittance of $15.00 that had been mailed in Story City but not received in Leipzig. A tracer discovered that the home post office had forgotten to put his Leipzig street address on the money order. "If such delays can be avoided in the future I will be thankful." His mother soothed the pain by sending him an additional $5.00.
The fact was that financial reverses at home at a time of economic depression in the United States were reaching staggering proportions. Brother Lewis's financial reverses were affecting the rest of the family and Follinglo Farm itself was in danger of being lost to the family through sheriff's sale. And, added to all of that, 1894 was a dry year and crop prospects were not good at all.
But in the meantime life went on in Leipzig. Nehemias was making the acquaintance of a piano student, Glenn Dillard Gunn. "He was somewhat businesslike and important and not overly popular with other students. He talked a lot about himself and told us that his mother had thought and dreamed of little else other than music for months before she brought him into the world. Nor did he disappoint her in his later musical training and subsequent accomplishments in the field of music. Besides teaching (Chicago Musical College), conducting (the American Symphony Orchestra), and performing, he also acted as music critic for leading papers and periodicals."
On one day Price, Peterson, Gunn, and Nehemias made the 17 mile hike and return, a total of 34 miles, to visit Luetzen where Gustavus Adolphus fell on the field of battle. "We sang 'A Mighty Fortress is Our God' at the monument where Gustavus fell."
In late August Nehemias described a supper in the rooms of another friend, a Mr. Burns of Halifax, Nova Scotia: "We had bread with butter and eggs." Mr. Burns said his father, a retired Canadian minister, was a friend of the revivalists Moody and Spurgeon, and that he had once been a guest at the table of Lord Dufferin, Governor General of Canada. Burns claims to be related to the historian Bancroft, to Lyman Beecher and his sister Harriet Beecher Stowe, to Sir William Hamilton who commanded the artillery at the storming of Quebec, and to the head minister of the 70 ministers who translated the Bible under King James. He also claims relationship to the millionaire Coates of the great thread firm at Paisley, England. Friend Burns and I enjoy preparing our homely fare for supper. Tonight we are concocting a pudding made out of dried bread principally."
In September, fresh reverses and new litigation at home over unpaid debts brought new urgency to demands for Nehemias' return to Iowa. Admitting that he had not been able to realize his musical objectives he repeated his determination "to try to realize my strong desire to visit the Holy Land. I see it as a distinct advantage to have made this trip in view of my intentions for the future. What one learns in such a journey should add much to one's testimony, religiously speaking, in the days to come. Travel rates are surprisingly low on third class." He shrugged off the suggestion that he come home and study for the ministry, saying, "I would not have sufficient health for such a course." Knowing that his stay in Leipzig was drawing to its end, he wrote, "I am preparing to take my last lessons from Prof. Zwintscher, whereby I am initiated into his system of teaching."
During these days Nehemias was afflicted by a number of serious boils, one of which had become extremely troublesome. He was finally obliged to borrow $1.25 to get treatment from a doctor. The medical consultation gave some relief, but he did not go back for a second treatment, as suggested. He explained: "Since I am not asking for charity, the boil and I will have to risk it alone together. In summing up my resources I find that my ring and newest clarinet have graced the shelves of a pawn shop since last July. I have had the pleasure of pawning these articles twice since I came here. The first time I entered a pawn shop with any of my shrinking possessions made me feel like doing business with purgatory."
On 13 October he thanked his family for two letters from home and responded: "Your recital of trials is enough to make a stone weep. May God be with you all and strengthen and keep you. I see it is home for me (and glad I am that there is still a home to come to), but I have decided to take Palestine in stride on the roundabout way back. I feel satisfied that this journey, and what it teaches me, will help in any future activities. Viewed religiously it should be a help in a layman's work in the vineyard. It is possible that I will wax strong enough on my return home to give lectures here and there."
The same long letter of 13 October outlined his detailed plans for the trip to Palestine. He had studied the guidebooks and had letters of reference from knowledgeable people in Leipzig. He described the supply of clothing and the gear which he expected to carry and said that he planned to leave Leipzig the latter part of November. He said he needed $25.00 to pay debts in Leipzig, and that the $50.00 which it would cost for travel back to America would suffice for the trip home via Palestine.
His next letter included a "thank you" for $5.00 just received and went on to describe a number of missions and hostels in Palestine that were always generous to students. He had gleaned all the information he could from friends and university people who had traveled in Egypt and Palestine, including advice from the author of the guide to Palestine printed in the most recent Baedeker (the only travel guide available in those days). "Apples together with cheese, bread, graham mush, and an occasional egg or piece of sausage seem to keep body and soul together and will be my bill of fare on my travels much of the time. This sort of food will cost me about $1.00 a week. I may stuff my little cooker in my pocket so that I can have some cocoa now and then-." In the meantime he waited for money. His watch, ring, clarinet, and vest had been pawned and he said he was "mooning around rather aimlessly while waiting for funds commensurate with the price of tickets back to America besides the necessary amount to square up matters here. I hope no new disaster has struck you."
Having made his decision for the future, Nehemias determined to see as much of Germany as possible before leaving for the Orient. With the name dropping Burns as a companion he walked the 21 miles and return to Grimma, a total of 42 miles in a day, the outward journey having taken 5 hours. Grimma was the place where Luther's wife had escaped from a convent before going to Wittenberg. Five cents was sufficient for the purchase of food before their return trip to Leipzig.
On 6 November, he was in Eisleben, 40 miles away. He walked the distance in 2 days, traveling via the university city of Halle. He was impressed by the large complex of buildings housing the Herman Franke Orphanage, and the sight of a thousand children marching from dormitory to school rooms. His lodgings at a Christian hostel cost him 2-1/2 cents. At Eisleben he visited the church where Luther was baptized. "The baptismal font used is still shown." He also visited the house where Luther died. "A rush of awesome feelings went through me as I climbed the ancient stairs to bend over the couch where the great Reformer breathed his last."
On his return trip Nehemias went by way of Mansfeld, where "10,000 men are still employed in the mines worked by Luther's father, Hans." From thence he walked to Eisenach, and then to the Wartburg where he saw "the room in which Luther worked, and where it is claimed that he flung his inkstand at the devil." From here he took passage by rail to Erfurt where Luther found his "chained Bible" and from thence went on to Weimar where Goethe, Schiller, and Liszt had lived. Nehemias was particularly pleased to have gained entry to Liszt's home and to have been "shown about the rooms by Pauline Apel, his old housekeeper. She had served as his attendant for 30 years. She was able to tell about many things from Liszt's private life."
Mail on 10 November brought $5.00. "I'll buy bread with some of it and the rest goes in driblets to my creditors till I receive the hoped-for amount that will enable me to wind up here and start for the East." On 12 November Nehemias gave instructions for remittances in the future to be sent to Cook and Sons, the travel agency, in Jerusalem, expressing the hope that no slip-ups would occur that would maroon him for five or six weeks in some undesirable place.
Obviously a substantial amount of money must have arrived, because his next letter was written on 23 November enroute to the East and on a train somewhere between Dresden, Germany, and Prague, Bohemia (now Czechoslovakia).
VI. LEIPZIG TO IOWA VIA PALESTINE
November 1894--May 1895
The first stop on the rail trip from Leipzig was the city of Dresden, where Nehemias took to the streets for his usual round of sightseeing. He visited the city's magnificent cathedral and the art gallery where he saw Raphael's Sistine Madonna and other great works of art. Resuming his journey, he crossed the Austrian frontier and, after a stop at Bodenbach, went on to Prague, then in Bohemia, a part of the Austrian Empire. After securing lodgings, he walked around the city recalling the life of John Hus at many historic sites. He was up at six the next morning to see as much of Prague as possible before entraining at noon for Vienna. "Just before entering the city we crossed the Danube over a bridge 1-1/2 miles long. One views with great ecstasy a stream so familiar in song and story as the beautiful blue Danube." After a night in a Vienna hotel, he visited St. Stephens' church while services were in progress and went on to a further round of museums and then "along the busy streets to the Emperor's palace to hear the singing of the famous Schloss Capelle". Thence he walked on to "the house where Beethoven had lived and labored. It was a simple abode. I cast some adoring glances up and down the walls as if in thankfulness for this haven for the master, and I may have caressed them before I left and hurried to the great central cemetery where he is buried."
Leaving Vienna late in the evening of 27 November, Nehemias moved southward, arriving in Trieste the morning of the 28th. He remained here for two and a half days until 30 November, when he embarked on a Greek freighter. A storm at sea gave him another violent attack of seasickness that "doubled me up and made me spout like a whale." The ship was delayed at the island of Corfu to wait out the storm. Leaving the island on 4 December for the overnight voyage, and more seasickness, he arrived at Patras in Greece the following morning. "No sooner had I come ashore before I was taken in hand by the custom house officials. After pawing over my effects they announced breezily that I could proceed on my way for all of them. I did, but was intercepted in my advance by a fellow who represented himself as a hotel man and who insisted that we take dinner together. He must have mesmerized me, for at the conclusion of the meal I found myself doing all of the paying."
A noon train from Patras took Nehemias on the trip to Athens, "thrilled during the entire seven hour ride at the prospect of being enabled to view the famous ruins and other remarkable handiwork of the ancients. The train followed the curves of the sea shore until we reached Corinth. Just before we entered the city I opened my New Testament and my eyes fell on I Cor. 2. It was a memorable experience to read and consider the words in the very place where this man of God was led to utter them."
Arrived at Athens, Nehemias secured a hotel room and got a good night's sleep in preparation for the next day's sightseeing. The Acropolis was his first objective. "1 had fetched up in one of the shabbiest quarters of the city. I feared I might be molested by some of the ragamuffins who stared so fixedly at me. They may have been stunned by my unusual make-up: English hat, Norwegian ulster, German shoes, and Yankee manners." On the way he visited Socrates' prison, and the place where the people had listened to the orations of Demosthenes and Pericles. Arrived at the Acropolis, he saw the Athene Nike, the Propylaea, the Parthenon itself, and finally the Areopagus where St. Paul had preached to the Athenians. After a night's sleep he spent one more day in a fast paced tour of Athens and then went on to Piraeus, the seaport of Athens, where he spent a night and secured passage by sea to Alexandria in Egypt.
On arrival in Alexandria Nehemias put up at a small hotel, rested a night, and hired a guide to show him the city. The next day he took a train to Cairo, arriving at dusk. He found a hotel where he could lodge for 2 francs a day. Early the next morning he was off for the pyramids along a "pleasant smooth road." He secured help from willing Bedouins at the foot of the great pyramid. Two pushed him up and the third pulled from above, to help him climb to the top. The descent proved more hazardous than the ascent, the Bedouins regaling him the while with stories of people who had been severely injured on the way down.
Having climbed the great pyramid he turned to its interior, saying, "The timid and weak had best not enter as the subterranean passages are quite dark. Some of the passages are very low, being only 3 feet 4 inches in height. We had to slide and crawl in order to get through. At length we reached the interiors. The great hall is 155 feet in length, 28 feet in height, and 3 feet 4 inches in width."
Taking leave of his guides, Nehemias set off on the back of a camel to see the Sphinx. "No wonder the Arabs call it Aboud Houl (Father of Terror)." Remarking on the legends relating to the Sphinx Nehemias re called trouble with his camel driver, who had agreed on 5 cents an hour for his services. "A little before the time was up he demanded more pay. This I refused, whereupon he said: 'I take by force.' I did not mind his threat, feeling quite secure sitting far above his head, but suddenly, at a sign from his master, the unwieldy camel dropped to the ground, and there I sat at the mercy of the black wretch who brandished a whip above my head. I sat it through, and took my departure as calmly as 1 could." The Bedouin gave up gracefully, saying, 'Me not mad at all, me just look that way.' "
Near the Pyramids Nehemias tried to convert some Mohammedans, saying that they ought to become Christians. He found one that would accept Christianity for 10 shillings. "Arabs will do anything for money."
It was time to go back to Cairo. Arabs who had donkeys to let warned that it was not safe to walk alone after dark. "1 went alone, and was neither robbed or killed." The next day he visited the Egyptian Museum and its famous hall of mummies. Thence he hired a donkey and driver to take him to El Azhar for a visit to a Mohammedan school. His mount presented something of a problem. "A donkey is difficult to steer. This one did not mind anything but the whip, and that was plied pretty vigorously before he noticed it. All of a sudden he struck out of his own accord and away we went into the crowd." After numerous close shaves the donkey and his rider arrived at their destination where the driver demanded more than the fee agreed upon. Nehemias refused the added payment and the debate raised a mob of 60 Arabs who listened to the noisy argument and sided with the donkey's owner. "I finally freed myself from this unpleasant situation by giving one of them a coin and asking him to take me to the director of the Mosque."
Leaving Cairo Nehemias traveled by way of Ismalia, "the Goshen of the Israelites," to Port Said to take ship for Jerusalem. Passengers had hoped to arrive at Jaffa, the port serving Jerusalem, the next day, but a storm made a landing at Jaffa impossible and the passengers were disgorged at Beirut, 70 miles distant. They remained there for three days until passage became available to Jaffa.
"I had bought tickets to many of the most famous cities in the world without experiencing any peculiar sensations, but when I said 'Ticket to Jerusalem, 'a thrill went through me. The ticket cost 5 francs. Just be fore the train started I was approached by the ticket taker who, on seeing I was an American, said, 'I like Americans; they are nice people, but some of you are very funny. Just now there is a lady from Illinois here going around among the people selling tracts and saying that the world will come to an end in February.'
"It was on a Sunday that we made our entry into Jerusalem. It was a beautiful sight that greeted our eyes as we left the station upon our walk over the old Bethlehem road into the city. Entering the Jaffa Gate we immediately began the inevitable hotel hunt." Lodgings were found in a German "Hospice." His companion at the time, a German architect from Hanover, was given the usual two weeks o` free lodging available to European students. Being an ineligible American Nehemias had to pay 5 francs a day.
The following day was Monday, Christmas Eve, 1894. At breakfast the housefather in the "Hospice" read the Christmas Gospel. "I did not feel homeless or alone, for I was dwelling in Mt. Zion, in the city of our Lord." In the forenoon Nehemias was joined by an American from Beirut for a visit to the Holy Sepulchre, built by the Roman Emperor Constantine, and consecrated in 336 A.D. Their next stop was at the Rotunda of the Sepulchre, the place of Christ's burial.
At noon Nehemias joined some German tourists for the journey to Bethlehem, a two hours walk. "On both sides of the road were gardens and vineyards. These with the roses and sweet smelling plants must have made the region a paradise in Christ's time. Over this road Abraham and Jacob, Mary, Joseph, and Christ had walked." While the group stopped at the grave of Rachel "some well mounted Bedouins, heavily armed, dashed by in a mad gallop in the direction of Jerusalem. The Bedouins are beautiful riders, and I know of no more beautiful sight than groups of them skimming along on their sleek Arab horses over the well trodden roads, with guns and knives clashing and mantles flying."
When the company of tourists reached Bethlehem (8,000 population at that time), they found that the Patriarch of Jerusalem had just preceded them, "escorted by bands of music and a large gathering of people." Caught up in the crowds of tourists, Nehemias and his friends were drawn into a nearby Franciscan monastery as Christmas Eve guests at the evening meal. "The monks were everywhere with kind words and smiling faces carrying big bowls of soup, large dishes of meat, and large flasks of wine to their hungry guests. One of my German companions had partaken of too much wine, and when we reached the open air he commenced singing boisterously. When I mentioned to him that such behavior was not in keeping with the place and the 'Holy Night' he was perceptively moved. His eyes filled with tears; and as he looked up towards the bright, twinkling stars he commenced talking about his mother far away. 'If she only knew that I was here where she so often came with her thoughts, here where the heavenly Babe was born.' "
Nehemias remained in the Church of the Nativity (also built by Emperor Constantine), in the cavern where Jesus was born, for the rest of Christmas Eve, emerging at the dawn of Christmas Day. "There were services in the church without interruption Christmas Eve and all through the night till Christmas morning. The church was crowded with people. The Catholic services were very impressive and the music was grand. At about three o'clock in the morning a little Arab boy offered me a chair. The offer was most welcome, for I had stood nearly all the night and was very tired. I rested my head on the handle of my umbrella, which I had planted between the knees of the sleepers on the floor, and before I was aware of it the soft music echoing through the church had lulled me to sleep."
Awaking suddenly at four o'clock, he remembered his determination to visit the field of the shepherds while it was yet night. He hired an Arab to show him the way to the field, about a fifteen minute walk from Bethlehem. "As we stood in the place where it is believed the angels brought the heavenly message, looking upward I thought that I could almost see the glorious vision the shepherds saw, and hear the wonderful words of the angels, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men.' I was entirely alone on the spot, with the exception of my Arab guide. The night was without a sound, and it seemed to me filled with a certain fragrance pervaded, as it were, with sweet holiness from above. This was one of the most inspiring portions of my trip." As Christmas Day dawned and "the purple streaks of dawn commenced brightening up the landscape," Nehemias made the two hour walk back to Jerusalem.
He engaged a room in Jerusalem in the home of a German-Russian family who lived in the German colony of Jerusalem. Lodging cost 17 francs a month. He boarded at a Turkish restaurant nearby. His immediate problem was that the Mohammedan Feast of Rahmadan was in progress and no food was obtainable till sundown, at "the firing of the big cannon which is a signal that the eating operations may begin." The German colony, outside the outskirts of Jerusalem where Nehemias lived, was the site of the Plain of Raphaim where David slew the Philistines. It was a convenient base for his pedestrian excursions. "I strolled about, visiting places of interest, according to my own inclinations. This is far more enjoyable than paying $5.00 to $10.00 a day for the privilege of trotting around at the heels of a tourist agent" or following a party and being obliged to "go out sightseeing whether he feels disposed or not."
Later travel recollections describe many day trips taken by Nehemias in the vicinity of Jerusalem. Among them, a trip to the Garden of Gethsemane had great interest for him. "In the middle of the garden are eight olive trees, the trunks of which have burst, showing great age. They are said to be older than the time of Christ. As one stands looking at the garden with its venerable trees, it is hard to realize that this was once the scene of the greatest struggle, as well as the greatest victory, the world has ever known."
Plans to walk alone to Nazareth and the Dead Sea brought many graphic warnings, from knowledgeable people, of the frequency of Bedouin raids and brigandage in those regions. He was told of an Englishman and his wife who had taken the trip on horseback and without a guide. "On the way they were overtaken by robbers who relieved then of their horses, clothing, and valuables and then politely bade them proceed on their way. When they finally turned up at Jerusalem they walked in the habit of paradise and were on the point of succumbing to the effects of fatigue and vexation."
The dangers seemed real enough, and when the American consul in Jerusalem told Nehemias that he had never heard of any American who had undertaken the trip to the Dead Sea unaccompanied, our traveler attached himself to a company of five other pedestrians, a botanist from Saxony, two Danish painters, a friend from Genoa, and the architect from Hanover. The six provided themselves with ample rations for the trip, dressed themselves in threadbare clothing (looking, as Nehemias said, "like eloping scarecrows"), and departed, after leaving all personal valuables in safekeeping in Jerusalem. The road was good, and the company made rapid progress to Jericho. Here, the rates at the local Jordan Hotel being beyond their means, the six men spent the night in a single cell in a monastery. "Some slept on the floor, my Genoa friend in a hammock that broke during the night, and others on board benches. Two cats shared the room with us."
Arrived at the Dead Sea, the intrepid wayfarers went swimming. "Once or twice we swallowed the waves as they washed over our heads, but one who has had this experience once learns to keep his mouth shut while bathing in the Dead Sea. One can float like a cork or an egg shell as long as he pleases." Later they "bathed in the Jordan also, but this was no pleasure for we sank to our knees in mud."
On the return trip to Jerusalem they walked through the area remembered for the parable of the Good Samaritan and "one of our party yelled, 'Bedouins:' They soon overtook us and without any parleying demanded our tobacco. The next man looked at our knapsacks and said he wanted something to eat. They were nearly empty but we found some dry bread and cheese which we gave him. He had barely taken a mouthful when he contemptuously spat it away. He soon rode off. The others did not molest us but regarded us with lofty contempt as they passed by."
Later the travelers were accosted by the same group of Bedouins, who now barricaded the road before them. But this time their "faces were beaming with good humor and bewitching smiles, We were at a loss to comprehend the situation. Suddenly we grasped it. The villains were trying to lure us into mounting their horses as if to give us a free ride to Jerusalem, while in all probability their real intention was to kidnap us off to the wilderness where they could take their booty in peace and security. But we declined the honor of their company. Their ruse having failed the Bedouins seemed loath to use force, having no doubt concluded from our somewhat dilapidated appearance that we were hardly worth stealing. We arrived in Jerusalem late in the evening of the same day, whole and happy, and well satisfied with our trip."
Nehemias was to take one more trip to the Dead Sea area with his two Danish friends, Carl Pederson and Christian Anderson. They visited Mt. Tabor, the Sea of Genesareth, Nain, Capernaum, and Nazareth, whence they walked on to Haifa and Mt. Carmel. There they were entertained in a monastery by Franciscan monks, who prevailed upon the Danish artists to remain for a month to do "some fancy decorative work in the chapel. Meantime I just loafed by the sea or about the monastery." When the painting was finished the three travelers went to Caesarea and thence to Jaffa, where they waited for a ship to take them to Port Said.
On board ship the purser short-changed Nehemias out of "nearly 20 francs. He refused to make good and I wanted to cry because of a loss I could ill afford. But the magnanimous Danes let me have all the money I needed so we could travel on to Rome together. We took the train out of Port Said and found a reasonably cheap and good stopping place in Cairo." After visiting the pyramids again the three entrained for Alexandria where they remained for a week awaiting a ship for Naples. Here they stopped to see the sights together, to visit Pompei and climb Mt. Vesuvius. From there they went on to Rome for another week of sightseeing together. "It was a sad parting when they took the train for Copenhagen, and I returned to Naples." Here a ticket awaited him for passage back to the United States.
It was a steerage ticket that entitled him to passage in the hold of a ship with a cargo of Italian immigrants. Through the good offices of the American consul in Naples the captain of the S.S. Suevia invited Nehemias to bunk and eat with the officers. He rewarded them by composing and presenting the ship and its crew with the unpublished "Suevia Waltz."
Nehemias had been away from home for nearly three years. During that time he had spent a total of $300.00 for travel and lodging. He had, by any reckoning, a most remarkable experience. His innocent courage in the face of great dangers in Egypt and Palestine, and his stamina as a pedestrian in Europe and the Near East must excite the admiration of us all. He may have looked like ''an eloping scarecrow." There was more than "skin" and a "deranged colon" in the driving passion that sent him on his venturesome way.
VII. FOLLINGLO FARM
May 1895 -- December 1909
Nehemias returned to Follinglo Farm in May 1895, where, he says, "he found the folks battling business reverses, but in good health, and with stock thrifty and oats that yielded up to 125 bushels per acre."
He set out at once, like Mark Twain before him, to capitalize on his adventures in Europe by undertaking a lecture tour that included "40 audiences not too far removed" from his Story City home. Traveling by horse and buggy, and accompanied, in turn, by his brothers Henry and Gustav, he met "kind receptions and fair returns."
A printed poster with a large-letter heading, THE HOLY LAND, advertised a lecture on the Holy Land and Egypt with glimpses into Italy, Germany, Norway, and Sweden by N. Tjernagel, who has just returned from three years of travel and study abroad. A further note stated that "Mr. Tjernagel will illustrate his lecture by aid of a Sciopticon showing views of many points visited by him. Children are especially invited to come. Each child will be presented with a beautiful card with pressed flowers upon it that Mr. Tjernagel brought from Jerusalem. On account of the difficulty of obtaining them, these cards alone are worth the price of admission. He has also brought a few small stones from ancient buildings. Beautiful seashells and pressed flowers will be shown. Among the most interesting are stones from the old walls at Jerusalem, from the Dead Sea, from ruins at Pompeii, lava from Vesuvius, stones from the Acropolis at Athens and the Coliseum at Rome. He will also show pressed leaves from the graves of Beethoven, Mozart, and Mendelssohn, and Crown of Thorns and twigs from Gethsemane, all in frames." Admission: adults 25 cents, children 10 cents.
But the lecture circuit was not an easy life: indeed it was, as he said, "entirely too strenuous. Bothered by a deranged colon, typhoid fever aftermath, suffered in 1891," he was unable to continue. "Henry suggested that I quit and put-on overalls. It hurt, not the overalls, but the idea of giving up promising openings, first music, and now this." But there was no protesting against the disability of a deranged colon.
As a result Nehemias cast his lot with farming and, "since fate seemed so to decide it, I joined (in 1897) with Peter and Martin as a partner on the farm and was minded to use whatever of initiative, management, and downright physical labor that I could muster in the undertaking." It was an unlikely partnership which, nevertheless, was to make Follinglo Farm a showplace of modern farming, and the Tjernagel home a mecca for a stream of distinguished visitors from every walk of life.
On turning the farm over to his sons in 1897, Ole Andrias Tjernagel and his wife, Martha Karina, retired to a home in Story City. The new lady of the house at Follinglo was Mrs. Jennie Tjernagel, whom Peter had married in 1895, the year Nehemias returned from his travels. Whatever Follinglo would be in the years to come was to rest on her quiet and steadying influence, and, not least of all, on her children, the third generation of the remarkable family that made Follinglo Farm its home.
The Tjernagel Brothers turned to their task with determination. There was always the debt to keep up with, and urgent farm improvements to be made. Nehemias recalled that, "lacking means, we built barns ourselves, Peter doing most of the carpenter work. A vast fencing program was instituted, with cement posts and corner posts. One of us attended cement conventions to learn the best methods. We began putting in cement barn floors and foundations. We made cement blocks and built the Stabur [seed house] and built the east corn crib as an experiment. The first silo in the county was built by us without extra help. We started tiling on a shoestring on the northwest forty, and later put in our own vast drainage district by working in the winter." Purebred Milking Shorthorns and purebred hogs were introduced. A stable of about twenty draft horses was maintained.
With all this Nehemias was able to take "10 and 15 minute snatches between jobs" for writing about his experiences in three years of travel. He began publication by submitting a series of articles to the highly respected Midland Monthly, published in Des Moines. The title of these articles was On Foot in Egypt and Palestine. They ran in five issues, beginning in Vol. 5, No. , June 1896, and ending in Vol. 6, No. 6, December 18;6. These chapters were translated into Norwegian by Thorsten Jahr, later librarian of the Library of Congress. Nehemias added a number of chapters and published the whole as a book at Randall, Iowa, in 1897. A small hardbound book of 204 pages, ii sold for 50 cents. The Norwegian language press in America gave it highly favorable reviews.
In 1917 The Lutheran Book Concern, Columbus, Ohio, published the book in a handsome new format. The page size was enlarged, and glossy paper and new illustrations were used. Nehemias added some material not included in the Randall edition of 1897. The book sold very well at $1.50 per copy.
Unfortunately the book was not done in the English language, despite the fact that the first half of it had originally been written in English and serialized in the Midland Monthly. Nehemias said that illness had disrupted the progress of his writing. Why he later completed the Norwegian rather than the English version does not appear. He may have felt there was a better market for a Norwegian book.
Having recently read Mark Twain's Innocents Abroad describing, in part, a similar journey through Egypt and Palestine 18 years earlier, one can only agree with contemporary reviews that reported that Nehemias Tjernagel had written an excellent travel book. Quite apart from the meagre means at Nehemias' disposal, as compared with Mark Twain's lavish expense account (he was traveling as a newspaper reporter), Nehemias' book is sensitive and perceptive and written in a gay and self-deprecatingly humorous vein. It bears re-reading, if only in the English version that appeared in the Midland Monthly.
Nehemias' scrapbooks reveal little else of his personal life during the 15 years before his second trip to Norway. Peter and Jennie Tjernagel were blessed with additions to the household in the persons of Otto, born in 1896, Herman, in 1898, Elizabeth in 1899, Erling in 1900, Alfred in 1902, Martha in 1904, Olaf in 1905, Margarethe, born in 1907 and died in 1910, and Peder Julius, born in 1909 and died in infancy. The second Peder was born in 1910 and Sigurd in 1916.
Nehemias noted with great pleasure that his band music, "Daily News Waltz" and "Story City Overture," continued to appear on concert programs about the country. These numbers had initially been popularized and arranged by D.L. Ferrazzi, conductor of the Neapolitan Band of Philadelphia. The famed Dr. Carlo A. Sperati, the director of the Luther College Concert Band of Decorah, Iowa, also performed and enlarged the popularity of Nehemias band numbers. Additionally, Dr. Sperati included the choral number "Op Mod De Hoie Fjeld I Nord" in his Norway tour of 1914, the centennial year of Norway's independence. Reviews and sales promotions of the songs and anthems Nehemias had written were frequently seen in periodical publications.
Our budding author reported that he published his "second attempt-and last" in the writing of fiction. The first was "Rambert Elsinore," written in Norwegian and published in Amerika in 1892. It was a sentimental fantasy about a child, a boy gifted in music ... who died before the blooming of a brilliant career in music. The second, "Fetching Home the Cattle," was published in the Story City Herald in 1907. It described the plight of a boy and girl of the prairie caught in a flood in Long Dick Creek. A timely limb floated then to safety and "the reunion in our homes that night was happier than tongue can tell." The author was clearly not destined for greatness in this literary form.
We know nothing of the desires and objectives that led him to his second trip to Norway. Had success in his book about Egypt and Palestine stimulated a desire to write about an extensive trip through Norway? We only know that in December 1909 he had in hand a passport signed by the Secretary of State of the United States and dated 30 December 1909. His age was given as 41.
January 1910 -- April 1911
None of the austerity of Nehemias' first trip to Europe was evident in his second journey. He apparently had personal funds and none of his letters included pleas for help from his family at home. His transatlantic crossing in 1910 was on the Lusitania, the ill-fated Cunard liner that was to be the victim of a U-boat attack on 7 May 1915, a little over five years later. Torpedoes sent the ship to the bottom in 18 minutes. Nearly 1,200 lives were lost.
But luxury liner or no, Nehemias was seasick, unable to enjoy the ship's lavish cuisine, and equally unable to escape the incessant chatter of an Italian woman in the next state room. After arrival at Liverpool, where he was obliged to wait for a few days for passage to Hull, and thence to Christiania, he wrote to his family describing his sightseeing. One reference is remarkable in view of the time, 1910, in which he wrote, "I saw a really decent picture show here in Liverpool. I was so touched a couple of times because of associations brought to light by the picture. Wish there were more really clean and good movies to go to. Alas, such movies are very few."
After traveling by rail from Liverpool to Hull, Nehemias embarked for Christiania on 29 January 1910. But it was no pleasure trip. "The wicked swells began their ornery work and ere long I was in the most desperate throes of nausea." Arrived at Christiania, now known as Oslo, his first activity was to look for old friends and then to find lodging. He eventually settled on the home of a young couple. "Their name is Lindgaard. They are fine in every way. The lady of the house comes into my room and makes fire in the morning before I am up and carries in a bowl of hot cocoa at the same time. I lug in some bread myself. Dinners I eat at some restaurant."
But why was he in Christiania? He said: "I commune with myself in my room most of the time; and I wear out considerable leather walking to and fro between efforts at study and writing." What was he studying and what was he writing? His personal effects show that in addition to his passport he had come to Norway armed with two documents that may have served as some part of a rationalization for his trip. They appear to have been secured for him through the good offices of Prof. C.F. Curtis, Dean of the Department of Agriculture, Iowa State College at Ames.
The first of these was a formal document embellished with a blue ribbon and the gold seal of the State of Iowa. It was executed at Des Moines on 15 January 1910, and signed by B.G. Carroll, the governor of Iowa. It stated: "In the name and by the authority of the people of Iowa I do hereby commission N. Tjernagel of the city of Story City, delegate for and in behalf of the State of Iowa, to investigate and report upon agricultural development in European Countries, and I do bespeak for him such official recognition as shall be compatible with the public interest of the countries he may visit." So far as is known, all that came of this commission was a perfunctory visit to a Norwegian agricultural college.
The second document was identical to the first except that it authorized Nehemias to "investigate and report upon the conservatories and the musical schools of Germany, Norway, and Denmark." We know of no formal or informal response to this commission during his future travels. He remained in Christiania from late January to June 1910. He visited Holmenkollen, Norway's famous sports center, where he observed skating sledding, and skiing and saw the king and queen of Norway. "The king stood tall and upright, a commanding figure, a man to lean on; the sweet faced queen was of lesser build, wasp-waisted and slender withal, while little Olaf [the present King of Norway] at her side looked every inch the prince. The people cling to the kingly trio, who move so unostentatiously abroad among them, with respect and devotion."
Something of what many of Nehemias' nieces and nephews will recall from his piano playing in later years appears in his description of a visit to the home of American friends who then lived in Christiariia: "They have just bought a $700.00 piano. I am supposed to play it, but when I do there is considerable fusking [cribbing or musical doodling] intermingled. Well, to be a clever fusker indicates, at least, a modicum of talent which only awaits development."
A letter from Nehemias in March indicates that at long last he had returned to a serious study of music. A month earlier Mrs. Aall, with whom he had roomed during his first stay in Norway, had recommended Eivind Alnaes as a teacher. This man, who was to become a close friend, was the most highly respected musician in Norway, a pianist and composer, the organist in one of the great Christiania churches. "My writing will be sporadic hereafter. I have to exercise my poor brain on this difficult harmony study, a subject even more impenetrable than mathematics. When on Friday I became funny in my top-knot over the intricacies of the subject I decided to throw my cares out the window and invent some errands so I could be away from my problems for a few days. How about taking a trip to Sandefjord to visit my friends the Heyerdahls? Why not? Let's go:" So much for music study.
But, returned from his trip a week later, he was back at it again. "1 study my harmony when I have the strength for it. Not so easy to make room for new thought and material in an oldish head. But I am stubborn enough to keep on in the hope that I may catch the drift of it sooner or later, mostly later, I fear."
While in Christiania, Nehemias heard the Band of the 2nd Brigade play his "Story City Overture" at the royal palace. "There were thousands of listeners in front of the castle where the band was stationed. Above, in the castle windows, could be seen the kingly family looking out upon the populace and assimilating the music and the adulations with kindly graciousness. My overture may have been a rather hard pill to swallow, a joke on Offenbach and others whose names appeared on the program, that this overture harvested the greater applause. Actually, the band got everything out of the piece that it contained, and now I do not wonder so greatly at Brigade Musikken in Bergen that played it off and on for years in the park at the music pavillion. There is, however, nothing noteworthy about this piece of music, only it goes over fairly well with the general run of listeners. I consider some of my songs of more worth than any of my band pieces. Ole Olsen, the head of all military music in Norway, showed me quite a little honor in placing the overture on this Sunday program when the more choice compositions are given. I told no one among my friends about the program and sneaked around in the crowds so as not to be caught and thus, through my poor person, disillusion the effect of this Yankee number. Odd, isn't it, that when we fail to make the grade we are uncomfortable. When we do put a little something over we are more or less uneasy about the whole business." On 7 April, less than a month later, the "Story City Overture" was the first number in another program played at the castle in honor of the royal family.
Thus encouraged, Nehemias continued to work on his harmony. He became greatly attached to his teacher, saying: "Alnaes bears with me with understanding, and is always patient and friendly." He added, "I remain by my lonesome for the most part. Time does not hang heavy when I can study, play the piano a little, or read. All this requires eyes and nerves, and as these do not function overly well I take walks so as to recuperate and occupy my time."
Henry Bordewick, the American consul in Christiania, was extremely courteous to Nehemias and was particularly generous in giving him copies of newspapers and periodicals from the United States. In mid-March the consul was preparing "to assist in receiving Teddy Roosevelt when he comes there in May to be presented with the Nobel prize. Hope to be in line so as to get a glimpse of him."
On Good Friday, 1910, Nehemias attended services at Our Savior's Church in Christiania. After the service was over, the organist greeted him with a word of appreciation for his songs. Later in the day Nehemias attended a concert in another church where, much to his surprise, his melody for the hymn "0 Bleeding Head and Wounded" was on the program. He remarked that the soloist sang it "with good expression and understanding. The church was more than full and I thought it a great measure of grace that this wonderful text might be carried on the wings of this melody to the multitude of listeners present."
Like Charles Dickens and many other English authors, Nehemias found composers in Norway outraged by the manner in which their compositions were being pirated by American publishers. Ole Olsen cried: "They are a lot of thieves" and begged Nehemias to go home and "write, O write, Mr. Tjernagel, to influential people in your country to stop this mass thievery."
On 14 April Ole Olsen, the court musician, conferred with Nehemias about an overture for band that he had written. They agreed to name it "Roosevelt Overture" "in honor of Teddy Roosevelt who is expected to come here in May to receive his Nobel prize. It is slated to be played during the festivities." Nehemias explained the origins of the piece: "There are snatches in it from a sort of freak inspiration by Martin. There is also something from Pete's geist caught on the wing. The overture sounded like something when played by these excellent musicians. I heard it at a rehearsal, but I was very uncomfortable when I had to face them singly and alone. I felt pretty nearly like an imposter to discover myself as a devotee of music, even as a kind of composer, being fully and painfully aware of my shortcomings in the art. It was at a rehearsal that Ole Olsen asked me about the propriety of playing 'The Star Bangled Banner' on the coming occasion. I subscribed to the idea, but not to the pronunciation."
Later Nehemias said: "I can now report that we came to the final decision about the overture, and that the master was very considerate in recognizing a beginner's efforts. He took kindly to the composition and was pleased to include my waltz, 'Greetings to Norway,' in the band's program for their coming musical tour to Trondhjem."
Unfortunately no letter has been found among Nehemias' effects describing the events of 5 May 1910, when ex-President Theodore Roosevelt was in Christiania to receive the Nobel prize awarded for his peacemaking in the conflict between Russia and Japan in August 1905. An American color is apparent in the band's musical program for the day. The Second Brigade Military Band, directed by Ole Olsen, had placed Nehemias Tjernagel in excellent company in its choice of numbers for the day:
l. J.P. Sousa Stars and Stripes
2. N. Tjernagel Roosevelt Overture
3. Carl Busch Negro Life: Rhapsody
4. Theodore Moses-Tobani Grand American Fantasia
5. Carl Busch Finale of Cantata: "The Four Winds"
Surely this must have been the high point in the musical career of the Iowa farmer, Nehemias Tjernagel. And all this with his physical disabilities, real or imagined, and his inability to adhere to a rigid regime of study and practice. Many have achieved much less, at least of excitement and personal fulfillment, with far more effort.
From this time letters preserved from Nehemias' correspondence become very infrequent. Within a month after the Roosevelt festivities he was on his way to Valders where he visited the original home of his motherÕs people. This account is at the beginning of the journey taken in July and August and described first in Paragraphs of a Pedestrian and later in the more comprehensive Walking Trips in Norway. He took a train from Christiania to Valders and then walked northwest to a climactic climb to the peak of Jotunheim, the highest mountain in northern Europe. Nehemias then walked southward past the Sognefjord and Hardangerfjord to Odda, Botten, and to Sand. The trip from this place to Stavanger and Haugesund was by steamer. His two months trip ended at his ancestral home at Tjernagel, from which he took a few added side trips to places of interest.
Judged by any standard, his walking trip during July and August of 1910 was a remarkable performance. Of the whole distance of about 500 miles from Christiania to Sand he walked 350 miles. On some days he walked up to 30 miles. In many he covered from 20 to 25 miles.
Lacking specific information for the months from September 1910 to April 1911 we must assume that he returned to Christiania and his study of harmony under Eivind Alnaes.
The first published account of his travels during the summer of 1910 was in Paragraphs of a Pedestrian, published in 1913 by Mohn Printing Co., Northfield, Minnesota. The story, told in 75 pages, concluded with the ascent of Jotunheim. Standing on the peak, just before the descent, Nehemias describes his thoughts: "As I turned away from this glorious scene, there came into my thoughts that beautiful psalm of Brorson, made famous by Grieg:
Behold the mighty white array,
Like snowclad mountains far away."
The book made very good reading for homesick Norwegians in America. Thirty reviews, in English and Norwegian, are in Nehemias' scrapbook. In addition to local newspapers and periodicals, reviews (all commendatory) appeared in such metropolitan newspapers as the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, the Milwaukee Sentinel, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, and in such national periodical publications as Wallaces Farmer and others.
Theodore Graebner added the following observation to a complimentary review in the Lutheran Herald, Chicago: "We note one of the little ironies of life in these Paragraphs. Mr. Tjernagel hates tobacco with a devout and fathomless hatred, and more than once suggested that the present writer 'rip the tobacco habit up the back.' Now then, Mr. Tjernagel finds a sister of his grandfather up in the mountains of Jotunheim, and behold, she smokes a pipe emitting clouds like an Illinois Central engine. The book is worth reading."
The Burlington, Iowa, Hawkeye said: "Mr. Tjernagel is certainly a pleasing and interesting author. His style reminds us at times of John Burroughs."
The Minneapolis Journal said that "the book (privately printed) deserves much wider circulation than it is likely to have."
The Chicago Daily News said of the author that "he has written the sketches of the mountains, the fjords, and the valleys with a loving spirit."
In spite of private publication Paragraphs did well enough to encourage Nehemias to enlarge and expand it into a new book. It was published by the Lutheran Book Concern, Columbus, Ohio, in 1917. The new volume, 210 pages, included the 8 chapters of Paragraphs and added 14 more, bringing the travelogue down from the peak of Jotunheim and on to Haugesund and Tjernagel on the west coast of Norway. The new issue was done on fine glossy paper and included new photographic plates. There were also many superbly humorous drawings by E. Bjorn which caught the spirit of the unlikely mountain climber with his bowler hat, umbrella, rubbers, and camera. See the preceding page for a reprint of one of these memorable illustrations.
The San Francisco Chronicle referred to the new publication, Walking Trips in Norway, as "a series of brightly written descriptions" of Norway. The Des Moines Register said, "Surely no better or more delightful way to see Norway and know the Norwegian people than by walking, as our author did, hither and yon through its pleasant valley farms, over its rugged, snowcapped mountains, where the saeter girl keeps her lonely vigil, and beside its deep blue fjords that so sharply and tortuously indent the cost." The Milwaukee Free Press, which knew nothing about the author's infirmities, called Nehemias "a hardy Norseman," and said that his book "abounds in lively descriptions and picturesque incident." Winder's Travel Magazine, Oak Park, Illinois, said: "The author writes in a kindly homey way; you understand what he says, and see the things he sees, making his book the next best thing to a real trip to the Northland."
Reading Walking Trips in Norway may be the next best thing to a personal visit to Norway. At least some of us had to see Norway in person before are could appreciate the lively quality of Nehemias' description of the fjords, the streams, the mountains, and the people of Norway.
IX. FOLLINGLO FARM
April 1911 -- May 1958
Nehemias returned to the United States from Christiania on the S.S. Mauretania in mid-April 1911. The last dated reference to the return trip was in Paris, where he had gone to visit old friends before going on to England for his sailing to New York. Apart from the personal pleasure he had in hearing his "Roosevelt Overture" at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies in May 1910, he had little enough to show for his study of harmony in Christiania. But he did have in tow Norway's most distinguished living musician, Eivind Alnaes, organist, pianist, composer, and teacher.
As early as January 1911 plans had been in the making for an American concert tour for Alnaes, who was advertised as the most eminent Norwegian musician to visit America since the five tours of Ole Bull between 1843 and 1879. Americans remembered well the virtuosity of Ole Bull, one of the great Paganini's pupils, who had been sponsored and presented in America by P.T. Barnum. They also remembered Ole Bull's venture in 1852 when he lost a fortune attempting to found a Norwegian colony in Pennsylvania.
Alnaes, a modest, unassuming man, was no swaggering Ole Bull, but he was indeed a worthy representative of contemporary music in Norway. The organist at the Uranienborg Church in Christiania, he had distinguished himself by his virtuosity on both organ and piano. He was the composer of many songs and choral numbers including the extraordinarily successful song "Den Sidste Reis" (The Last Journey), often compared favorably with Edvard Grieg's "Den Store Hvide Flok" (Behold a Host Arrayed in White).
The concert tour was under the auspices of the prestigious W.H. Cook Company. Advance notices advertising the tour, written by such eminent personages as the Bishop of Norway, and leading musicians and publishers and others, referred to Alnaes in glowing terms: "Among Norway's later composers Eivind Alnaes ranks first." Many of his songs "rank fully with those of Edvard Grieg." Alnaes is in "the very front rank of our musical celebrities." "He comes nearer the great master Grieg than any other living Norwegian composer."
A notice in a Christiania newspaper dated 20 March 1911 indicated that "Mr. Tjernagel, who is an active member of the Norwegian Lutheran congregation to which he belongs, will accompany Mr. Alnaes and arrange concerts for him. Tjernagel is himself a composer and an able clarinetist. To make sure of a visit from Alnaes it would be well to write promptly to N. Tjernagel, Story City, Iowa (Follinglo Farm), where both expect to arrive shortly."
Nehemias took himself rather less seriously than American newspapers which referred to him variously as secretary, manager, and even impresario of the Alnaes concerts. He said that he accompanied the Norwegian musician to man the hand pumps on organs on which the master would play. But his role was more significant than that. He usually gave Alnaes some respite in his programs by performing on the clarinet. He played such numbers as Handel's "Largo" and the Bach-Gounod "Meditation." In some concerts, including one at Ames, Iowa, his brother Martin assisted, rendering a solo and joining Nehemias in a duet.
Alnaes played such impressive numbers as Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" but also much of the music of the Norwegian composers Grieg and Sinding and others. On some programs vocal soloists sang songs com posed by Alnaes. W.H. Cook's publicity called attention to an ovation for the Norwegian composer at Ames, Iowa, when Miss Ingeborg Svendsen Tune, who was programmed to sing two Alnaes songs, was called on for encores of four more of the composer's songs.
The concert tour began in April and ended in September with a total of about 50 concerts in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Interviewed about his tour after his return to Norway, Alnaes expressed regrets about the unfortunate timing of his tour during the summer months when people are reluctant to attend concerts. On one day of his tour, he said, Iowa temperatures had risen to an appalling 106¡F. He reported that in Chicago he had been joined by the St. Paul's Lutheran Choir, which sang some of his songs at its North Avenue location. A reception was also given him at Bjorgvin Hall in Chicago, where a male choir sang some of his songs. He had given a concert at a meeting of the Norwegian Synod in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he was joined by a mass choir of 1,200 voices.
When Alnaes returned to Norway in September 1911, Nehemias settled down to the quiet routine of farm life which was to occupy him for the next 48 years. The Tjernagel menage that had extended its hospitality to the visitor from Norway in the summer of 1911 included grandpa, retired, and his three sons in partnership in the operation of Follinglo Farm. Nehemias and Martin were bachelors; Peter and his wife, Jennie, had eight children. Added to this family of 13 regular residents were brother Gustav and sister Bertha who were often at home while not otherwise occupied. Brother Lewis, his wife, Sarah, and four children lived in Story City. Brother Henry was a missionary among the Eskimos in Alaska, where he lived with his wife, Anna, and three children. Even with the absence of two brothers and their families who lived elsewhere, Follinglo Farm -the home of grandpa Tjernagel, four sons, a daughter, a daughter-in-law, and eight grandchildren -- was a formidable establishment. It was held together by the quiet competence, the unassuming dignity, and the Christian example of Mrs. Jennie Tjernagel, wife and mother in her own family circle and, perforce, nurse and home-maker for an aging father-in-law, a sister-in-law, and three unattached brothers-in-law.
Almost on the heels of the departing Alnaes and at the initiative of the artistically sensitive Peter Tjernagel, the family organized an orchestra. Stringed instruments were made by the well-known violin maker Knute Reindahl of Madison, Wisconsin. The original Follinglo Orchestra included Peter and his brother Martin, and Peter's children Otto, Herman, Elizabeth, and Erling. Later three more sons joined the group. Peter led with the cello and Martin played the clarinet and French horn. Otto, Erling, and Olaf played violins, Herman the viola, Alfred the flute, and Elizabeth was the piano accompanist. It wasn't long before friends and neighbors were taking note of the fine music emanating from this farm. People who came to see the ultra-modern farming and the fine buildings at Follinglo invariably went away exclaiming about the farm musicians that operated this model farm. The group was much in demand for concert performances in the area. The Tjernagels at Follinglo who were remembered for their participation in the Riverside Band and Orchestra of the previous century had begotten a new generation to perpetuate the love of music at Follinglo.
The Prairie Farmer of 30 December 1916 led off an article titled "The Story of Follinglo: How the Tjernagels Have Set Farm Life to Music" with the words: "Follinglo Farm is known far and wide in central and northern Iowa as the place which has the best farm orchestra and the most unusual farm buildings in the state." The article went on to quote Peter Tjernagel as saying: "Just because a man is a farmer is no reason why he should lose his sense of the artistic and the beautiful. There isn't any place where the human qualities are developed better than on the farm,and no place where they become a part of one's life and work so easily as on the farm."
The Ilustriret Familieblad (Illustrated Family Magazine) in Norway referred to the Follinglo Orchestra in 1926 as "one of the most remarkable in existence because it is made up of farm folk in a single family." The article added: "The orchestra excludes all jazz music and plays only the compositions of the classical composers, Schubert, Schumann, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Gounod, Verdi, Bach, Hayden, Handel, and Grieg. Norwegian music and hymns are often included in their programs. Only one of the members of the orchestra has had a few lessons. The rest are self-taught. Their musical abilities are inborn."
But Peter Tjernagel's esthetic sensitivity went beyond a musical avocation. As he told the reporter for the Prairie Farmer, referred to above: "When we build a building, if only a chicken house, it is just as easy to make that structure attractive as it is to make it ugly. It is just as easy to do the work well and think of the satisfaction a well done job gives." And in that spirit the Tjernagel Brothers erected the widely hailed farm buildings at Follinglo Farm. The two barns were esthetically proportioned as well as being suited to their uses. The Stabur was designed after Norwegian buildings. It was set on concrete columns with a second story overhang to provide ample ventilation for its use, the dry-ing and testing of seed corn. It was embellished with the gabelspir, the legendary wooden spike at the front tip of the roof to impale evil spirits fluttering about it, and the dragon heads at the four lower corners of the roof to threaten hostile trolls and spirits venturing too near its vicinity.
But, most remarkable of all, was the cement work done by the Tjernagel Brothers. Nehemias had returned from his first European trip with the preposterously pretentious suggestion that farm buildings might be struc tured after the manner and the design of the classical architecture of ancient Greece. He had said: "A visit to the Acropolis at Athens, and more especially the Theseum, inspired the idea. Pete, with his artistic and mechanical insight, took to it with genuine interest and ability, and Henry joined in with high fervor and understanding. The younger boys, Martin and Gustav, also took part."
Tjernagel Brothers had already developed some skill in concrete fabrication. They had stretched two miles of fence employing posts made at home of cast concrete reinforced by three strands of quarter inch twisted steel. The corner posts, artfully capped and supported by massive bracing wings, were 16 by 16 inches. These corner posts were jokingly referred to at Follinglo as "the college post." The agricultural college at Ames had copied the design of this fencing for its own use. A visitor to the farm one day said to Peter: "I see you have the college post." The fence posts, 7 feet long, 5 inches in diameter at the foot, and 3 inches in diameter at the top, had been set upright as the ventilating walls for an experimental corn crib.
With that experience the Tjernagel Brothers were ready to proceed with building a corn crib modeled on the ruins of the Theseum at Athens. A delighted and enthusiastic Universal Portland Cement Co. described the completed building in their promotional advertising, as follows: "One of the most unique corn cribs ever built stands on the farm of Tjernagel Brothers at Story City, Iowa. The building is quite imposing. It stands 48 feet long by 31 feet wide, has two cribs 8 feet wide the length of the building, and is 22 feet high to the purlins of the roof. The alley between is 15 feet wide and gives ample storage for a thresher and other farm machinery. Bins above hold about 4,000 bushels of oats. The walls are of concrete, consisting of solid 16 inch columns, with a low perforated wall between columns and space above closed by concrete fence posts, about 2 inches apart. The roof framing is of wood and the roof of cement tile. The owners planned the building and put it up with their own labor, paying only $550 for lumber and cement and $35 for reinforcing material."
The Tjernagel Brothers had done it all themselves. A feature article in the Des Moines Register and Leader headlined the "Cement Farm Buildings" which it called the "Contribution of the Tjernagel Brothers of near Story City, Iowa, to the greater Iowa movement." The article referred to the "model buildings, the first of their kind in the state, erected by the three brothers without outside assistance." The article assured readers that though the building was erected by men who were not professional builders, "There is no evidence of amateurish work to be found about the buildings as they give evidence of the best in workmanship and materials."
Overnight local publications as well as every agricultural journal of national significance were running stories about the now famous Follinglo Farm. Among these were The Country Gentleman, Wallaces Farmer, and The Breeders Gazette. All remarked on the Tjernagels, a family of musicians, far in the vanguard of agricultural development in Iowa.
In spite of all this, the "Iowa Farm News," a feature department of the Des Moines Register and Leader, assured its readers in a 31 July 1919 issue that Follinglo Farm was much more than the home of a family of musi cians and the site of a remarkable set of farm buildings. The article called attention to careful husbanding of farm manure, kept under roof to prevent its values from being washed away by rain, as well as the planting of leguminous crops for soil enrichment. It reported that one end of the barn had a large woodworking shop where Peter was handcrafting fine cherry and walnut furniture of great beauty. The Stabur was described as a laboratory for testing and drying their favored variety of seed corn, Reed's Yellow Dent. Purebred Poland China hogs were being produced for market as well as the auction ring. In one sale 57 brood sows were sold in 30 minutes.
The fine herd of Milking Shorthorns developed at Follinglo Farm was well known to breeders in many states. Annual sales of young bulls, heifers, and milk cows brought hundreds of people to the farm. A stable of about 20 draft horses was maintained for farm use. Breeding of these animals kept the stable at full strength and provided salable surpluses for widely advertised sales of horses. The steady cash income, however, came from a flock of 800 chickens and from a continuous flow of milk from the dairy herd. Grandpa Tjernagel boasted that his aged team of road horses, Maud and Fritz, had hauled a million gallons of milk to the Randall creamery.
Nehemias' role in the partnership of Tjernagel Brothers was primarily the barnyard chores at home. He might pick a few ears of corn or set up a few shocks of oats in a rush season. Peter and Martin, and Peter's sons, with occasional hired help, did the field work. At a time when oats were threshed from stacks, Peter was the admiration of the community for the artistic proportioning and the rain-proof structuring of his rows of beautifully rounded and peaked oat stacks. Nehemias' specialty was the care of farrowing sows, often dangerous animals who respected the carpenter's hammer in his hand, the lightest touch of which inhibited any hostile tendencies in the huge sows. After farrowing came the patient attention to little pigs being readied for market.
Despite the rigors of his study of harmony under Eivind Alnaes,. Nehemias did no further serious work in composition or in the writing of poetry suited to musical expression. He laid his clarinet aside and contented himself with improvisation and his familiar kind of doodling on the piano. He continued to have some correspondence with musicians and with music publishers about music already in print. There were no proposals for publication of new material.
After publication of the fine hardbound editions of his expanded Fodture I Aegypten Og Palestina and Walking Trips in Norway, both in 1917, Nehemias concentrated his spare time on the writing of local history de scribing the life of the first generation of Americans on the Iowa prairie. Much of this material was published in local newspapers and in The Annals of Iowa and another Iowa historical journal, The Palimpsest. He had important encouragement in this work from William (Steamboat Bill) Petersen, Director of the State Historical Society of Iowa. Nehemias would have been pleased to know that Petersen's successor in that office was to be Dr. Peter T. Harstad, the son of one of his nieces, Martha, married to the Rev. Adolph M. Harstad.
Eventually Nehemias sifted and sorted all these articles into a single unpublished manuscript which he had titled The Passing of the Prairie.
Nehemias Tjernagel's last book was published by himself at Story City, Iowa, on 10 March 1955. It had the title Contributions to Church Periodicals and was, as the title indicated, primarily a collection of reprints of published materials. The first section included material on the life of the Christian layman, the value of Christian Day Schools, and some discussions of Christian doctrine. One of the essays, "Can We Cope with Evil by Being Partners with It?" displays the moralistic tone that is characteristic of much of his writing about religion and the Christian faith. He had a passionate concern about what he called "amusements of a degrading nature." The essay "Godliness with Contentment Is Great Gain" is a grim warning against the perils of "a plunge into debt" that closes with the question: "Should it be God-pleasing that we fritter away our lives in a ceaseless struggle with debt? God does not require our venturesome managing ability as much as he does our ready submission to his will and divine plan." However, despite some inability to make clear distinctions between what was merely secular and what was outright immoral, his short essays do reflect an understanding of the Gospel and a commitment to the truth of Holy Scripture.
The second chapter of his collection of essays included such titles as "Mother," "Tact," "Work," "Beauty," "Dress," "Procrastination," "Rivalry," "Faults," "Love," "Politeness," "The Flirt," "Humor," "Chores," "The Conversationalist," and, finally," "Death." It is a moralizing compendium making for a kind of latter day Poor Richard's Almanac. These essays may reveal a firm faith and a high moral sense. They reveal little of originality either in moral philosophy or in theological perception. Nehemias' real gift was in other forms of literary expression:
Compared to the first two chapters of Contributions to Church Periodicals (the first 123 pages of the book), the third and fourth chapters are pure gold. Here, especially in the essay "Musical Memories" as well as in all of the last 44 pages of the book, he has distilled the very best of his writing on his musical life and the most charmingly lyrical passages of his travel experiences. Pages 131-133 include English translations of his most popular songs, "Guiding Star," "The Departed Sister," "Lille Madit," and the popular rouser "Ho: For the Mountains of the North."
Nehemias always had a strong sense of family and corresponded constantly with his sister and his brothers, as well as with nieces and nephews who matured during his lifetime. His scrapbook contains exten sive information about the military service of nephews in the Second World War.
Given the wide range of acquaintances that his foreign travels, his publications both musical and literary, his interest in the church, and his sponsorship of the Eivind Alnaes tour had given him, he spent much time in pleasurable correspondence with the great and the near great.
He wrote to Adlai Stevenson assuring him of support in his candidacy for the Presidency of the United States despite the fact that the candidate was a divorced man. Moral indignation prompted him to write to ex President Theodore Roosevelt in 1910. Nehemias was upset over the fact that Bjornstjerne Bjornsen had been given a state funeral in a Lutheran church in Norway. He did not think that an unbelieving opponent of the Christian faith deserved the honor that had been shown him. He wrote that "a considerable number, especially the younger generation, are following in the wake of unbelievers like Ibsen and Bjornsen." Nehemias went on to say that "there are hundreds of thousands of Norsemen in America and they naturally read and are considerably influenced by Norse literature. I will attempt to lift my voice against this false modern trend, but it is so small and so unutterably weak that it will have but very little effect. On the other hand, if you could see an opportunity to make mention of it while here, though but in a few words, it would assuredly have a far reaching effect." The letter was dated Christiania, 4 May 1910. Roosevelt received the Nobel prize in Christiania on 5 May.
Reference has been made to Nehemias' correspondence with the Metropolitan opera star Olive Fremstad. He also corresponded with Mme Detliv Tillisch, a Des Moines soprano who had studied under Edvard Grieg's widow and was well known, especially in European musical circles. She had included some of Nehemias' songs in her programs and visited Follinglo in 1921.
Two other well known American figures also struck a responsive chord in Nehemias' thinking. In an exchange of correspondence Walter Damrosch, conductor of the Metropolitan Opera Company and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and Nehemias agreed on the debilitating influence of modern music. In a letter written 9 January 1933 Damrosch said: "I quite agree with you that the 'jazz spirit' has invaded the churches, and that dignity is often sacrificed to speed." He added: "I like your songs. They are simple and genuine in their expression." Henry Van Dyke had been pastor of the Brick Presbyterian Church in New York, a professor of literature at Princeton University, and a Navy chaplain during the First World War, and was the author of many books written between 1884 and 1930. When Van Dyke protested the awarding of the Nobel prize for literature to Sinclair Lewis for his "decadent work, Main Street," Nehemias expressed his agreement. He sent him a copy of Walking Trips in Norway and Van Dyke returned the compliment with the gift of his Fisherman's Luck. As a footnote in his scrapbook Nehemias noted: "When men of great ability and prominence will take their precious time to write most graciously it heartens the weary plodder on his way."
But not all of the correspondence was commendatory. F. Melius Christiansen of the famed St. Olaf Choir wrote expressing his disapproval of Nehemias' writing new texts for established songs in which words and music had been wedded by many years of popular usage.
Among his pleasures in his later years were extended visits to the homes of relatives as far removed as California and the State of Washington, as well as the nearby states of Wisconsin and Minnesota. Attendance at reunions of the Riverside Band and the Follinglo and Tjernagel families were a great pleasure to him. So also were the Follinglo visits of a never ending stream of relatives and friends. To the last he kept a fondness and concern for near and distant members of his family and the activities and the welfare of 28 nieces and nephews whom he very frequently remembered at Christmas with some modest family "treat."
In 1948, in his 80th year, Nehemias was interviewed by Lulu Mae Cole for a feature story in the Des Moines Register. Her well written story was illustrated by an excellent photograph in which he appeared in a familiar pose, seated at his piano wearing a herringbone jacket, overalls, and high overshoes. He told his interviewer that he had been "too much a jack-of-all-trades." He said that at the present time he was limiting himself "to caring for 130 graded Berkshire pigs, walking over the fields to lop off branches from a grove of uprooted willow trees, rolling up fencing, and inspecting ditch tiling." He said that "he loved Iowa, and that nowhere is there a more beautiful sight than ripening grain. And I see the hand of God in my life. I have not been able to do all that I wanted, but perhaps I have been able to do some good, and there may be some purpose in it."
He was to live for 10 more years, surviving all of his brothers. During these years the actual operation of the farm was in the hands of Jennie Tjernagel's three sons, Herman, Erling, and Peter. Peter married Marie Andreson, and they remodeled the Stabur for use as a home for themselves.
In retrospect we cannot fail to recall Nehemias' inability to rise above his own physical limitations. Piano practice and the study of harmony was drudgery from which he took flight with an easy readiness. There was always the excuse of weak eyes and a deranged colon. Nor was he reluctant to plead inability to do many things -- to drive a car or handle farm machinery, even harnessing a team of draft horses or handling a mechanical milking machine was beyond him. From childhood he had lived in a world of utter dependence on those who were near him. Some one else would always do what he couldn't, or wouldn't, do.
Yet with his charm of manner, with a gracious interest in his companions whoever they might be, an earnest listener as well as a fluent conversationalist, he did endear himself to an extraordinarily wide range of acquaintances. His music, the choicest bits of his writing, and the grumpy friendliness that many of us knew are more than worthy of our remembrance.
17 May 1958 was like any other day on Follinglo Farm, except that Erling thought he heard an unusual noise upstairs. When he went to investigate he found that Nehemias had fallen over his bed in the posture of prayer and was dead. He had no last illness. He had been downstairs for breakfast and afterwards had ascended the ladder-like spiral staircase that led to the second floor.
The funeral was held in the so-called "Tjernagel Church" and Unko, as his nieces and nephews called him, was laid to rest in the family burial plot on 20 May. The funeral sermon based on Mark 10, 15 included three quotations about death taken from the book Contributions to Church Periodicals. The obituary closed with these words: "As we stand at his last resting place we recall one of his sentimental essays suggested by the partly undecipherable inscription seen on a stevedore's grave in Sweden:
"Now the chain lies broken . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ÉÉÉÉÉÉsong of praise . . . . . . . ÉÉÉÉÉ. . . ÉÉÉÉÉÉglorious when I shall see God."
It is unthinkable to review the life of Nehemias Tjernagel and observe the development of the celebrated farm of the Tjernagel Brothers without a special tribute to the women who, after his own mother, made it all possible. Peter and Jennie Tjernagel had been married the year Nehemias returned from his trip to Europe. From that time, excepting only 18 months in the years 1910 to 1911, Nehemias lived in their home. A kind and generous Jennie cared for Nehemias in those years, seldom, if ever, complaining about his idiosyncracies and what was too often a rather bilious and cantankerous nature. She brought up her own children while finding room for Nehemias, his father Ole Andrias, two brothers, Martin and Gustav, as well as sister Bertha, all of whom called Follinglo their home. In addition to all this she provided for hired men and made lunches and coffee for hundreds of the people who came to the Follinglo Farm livestock sales. She presided over a home which became a guest house for literally hundreds of visiting relatives and dignitaries like Eivind Alnaes, who spent a large part of an entire summer at Follinglo Farm.
In 1940, when Jennie's health had begun to deteriorate, Nehemias' sister Bertha came to Follinglo and soon had assumed full responsibility for his care and the duties of the Follinglo household. It was not an easy task for either Jennie or Bertha, or, for that matter, for Marie, nephew Peter's wife, who assumed responsibility when Jennie became an invalid and Bertha was hospitalized. Perhaps no more crotchety and ill tempered than many another aged bachelor, his disposition certainly did not mellow with age. Yet, irritated though these ladies must often have been, they neglected no service or care that his scant frame, always weak and debilitated, appeared to require. Every living Tjernagel will remember these remarkable women with love, respect, and gratitude, not only for what they did for Nehemias and for many others outside their own families, but for what they have meant for all of us in their gracious hospitality and in their enduring Christian example.
* * *
On Monday evening, 9 December 1968, an Iowa Air National Guard jet training plane crashed into Follinglo Farm in a power dive, reminiscent in effect, though not in intent, of the Japanese Kamikaze attacks in the Second World War. The crash killed both men aboard and left a gaping 30-foot hole where the corn crib had once stood. The impact and explosion of the plane blew a sheet of jet fuel against the house that ignited and burned it to its foundations. The occupants of the house, Herman and Peter Tjernagel, and Peter's wife and four children, in the house at the time of the crash, escaped with minor injuries. The remaining farm buildings were so shaken on their foundations that they had to be destroyed.
After the settlement of damage claims the Jennie Tjernagel estate was closed. All of the Follinglo land was offered for sale and was purchased by Michael and Martin, the two sons of the second Peter Tjernagel and his wife, Marie.
The familiar Follinglo Farmstead, with all the happy memories associated with it, is no more. But a fourth generation of Tjernagels -- and a third generation of Tjernagel Brothers -- is on the land. A new Follinglo is in the making. As these words are being written late in 1975, the land bought by Grandpa Tjernagel for $4.00 per acre is now valued at over $2,000.00 per acre. Michael and Martin Tjernagel, equipped with massive farm machinery, are farming the Follinglo land and added rented acreage to a total of over 1,000 acres. Where Nehemias was caring for 150 pigs, the new Tjernagel brothers are producing upwards of 3,000 marketable hogs a year.
PUBLISHED AND UNPUBLISHED WORKS OF NEHEMIAS TJERNAGEL
Daily News Waltz." Published by W.I. Peters and Co.
"Greeting to Norway Waltz." Manuscript only. Played on tour by the Military Band of the 2nd Brigade. Of this number Nehemias wrote: "The five daughters of Burger Hall doted on my 'Greetings to Norway Waltz' because it 'was so good to dance to,' which decided me not to publish it."
"Roosevelt Overture." Manuscript only. Played in honor of Theodore Roosevelt on his visit to receive Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo 1910, by the Military Band of the 2nd Brigade.
"Story City Overture." Published by J. Schott, N.Y.
"Suevia Waltz." Manuscript only. Presented to the ship and crew of the S.S. Suevia, who took him out of steerage and lodged him in the captain's cabin on his return from Europe in 1895.
"The Departed Sister." Published 6y Northern Book and Music Co., Chicago. Dedicated to Olive Fremstad at the death of her sister, Marie, both student friends in Berlin. (Text and melody.)
"Lille Madit." In memory of death of child of Peter and Jennie Tjernagel. Published by Norsk Musik Forlag , Oslo. Sung by concert singer Carsten Woll for Columbia Records. (Text and melody.)
"Lyksalighed" (Bliss). Published by Norsk Musik Forlag, Oslo. Sung by concert singer Bergljot Tillisch. (Melody only.)
"Op Mod De Hoie Fjeld I Nord" (Ho'. For the Mountains of the North). Published by William Hanson Publishing Co., Leipzig. Sung by Festival Choir at Landssangerfesten, Norway, 1914, and at Sangforeningen Bjorgvin's Jubilaeum's Concert (95th year), Chicago. (Text and Melody.)
Anthems and Hymns
"Guiding Star." Published by the Northern Book and Music Co. (Text and melody.)
"King of Love." Published by the Northern Book and Music Co. (Text and melody.)
"0 Sacred Head." Published by the Northern Book and Music Co. (Melody only.)
"Rock of Ages." Published by the Northern Book and Music Co. (Melody only.)
"Thy Will Be Done." Published by the Northern Book and Music Co. (Melody only.)
"Tre Sange" (Three Songs). Dedicated to his mother in remembrance of the death of his sister, and published by the composer in 1904. "Hymnal Prayer," words by M.O. Teigen; "Hos Det D¿de Barn" (Before the Dead Child), words by Georg Smidt; "I En Tung Stund" (In a Solemn Hour), words by Georg Smidt.
Unpublished Music Manuscripts
(Listing Provided by Robert Moldstad)
"Great God What Do I See and Hear" "Jubler I Himle"
"Kjerlighed Aer Lysets Kilde"
"O God, Help Me Mow" (verse by Esther Aall) "0 Menneske"
"O We Wretched Sinners"
"Sun over Day"
Music for Four Voices
"The Departed Sister"
"Op Mod De Hoie Fjeld I Nord"
Music for Piano
"Valse No. 1"
"Valse No. 2"
"Valse Jamboree No. 3" (incomplete)
Fodture I Aegypten Og Palestina. Randall, Iowa, 1897. 204 pages.
Fodture I AegyPten Og Palestina. 2nd edition, expanded. Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1919. 318 pages.
Paragraphs of a Pedestrian. Mohn Printing Co., Northfield, Minnesota, 1913. 75 pages. Copyrighted by the author.
Walking Trips in Norway. Expanded version of previous title. Lutheran Book Concern, Columbus, Ohio, 1917. 269 pages.
Contributions to Church Periodicals. Published by the author at Story City, Iowa, 10 March 1955. 168 pages. Pages 129-168 recall his "musical memories" and some of his travels.
The Midland Monthly, Des Moines, Iowa. A serialized On Foot in Egypt and Palestine ran in five issues, June, July, September, November, and December 1896. Translated into Norwegian, they were the first part of Fodture I Aegypten Og Palestina.
The Palimpsest, issued by the State Historical Society of Iowa. "The Sheldahl School," September 1931; "The Last Horse Robbery," October 1931; "The Riverside Band," May 1932; "Angels of the Sick Room," September 1942.
The Annals of Iowa, issued by the State Historical Society of Iowa. "Immigrants' Trying Experiences," July 1951; "Pioneer Iowa Homes," October 1951; "Variable Iowa Weather," January 1952; "Pioneer Foods and Water Supply," April 1952; "Pioneer Iowa Soil :Subjugation," October 1952; "Pioneer Animal Lore," April 1953; "Prairie Fires," July 1953; "Pioneer Church Fathers," January 1954.
The Freeman Journal, Webster City, Iowa. "A History of Scott Township."
Many religious periodicals printed his essays. Among them were The Walther League Messenger, St. Louis; The Lutheran Witness, St. Louis; The Lutheran Survey, Columbia, South Carolina; The Lutheran Sentinel, Madison, Wisconsin; and The Northwestern Lutheran, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Short travelogues, some of them appearing in the religious journals listed above, others in local newspapers such as Visergutten and the Story City Herald. "From Iowa to Norway" was printed in the Iowa State Register, 22 January 1893; a trip through Germany was described in Decorah Posten, 1 March 1895; Wallace's Farmer printed four articles on Nehemias' trip to Norway in the year 1911; "Mountain Climbing in Norway" appeared in two issues of Amerika in 1911.
A first attempt at fiction was printed in Amerika under the title "Rambert Elsinore" on 23 March 1892. The next, no better than the first, was in the Story City Herald in 1907. It was titled "Fetching Home The Cattle." "A Weird Night Ride" in the Story City Herald was an exaggerated description of his first auto ride in 1907.
In his later years Nehemias gathered most of his pieces on local history, especially those published in The Palimpsest and The Annuals of Iowa, into a single 250 page manuscript. He gave this unpublished manuscript the title The Passing of the Prairie.
My very special thanks to Lois Van Rooy for help with the typing, and to Hans and Letty Fritz for xerox copy of this manuscript. N.S.T.