Our Brakken Relatives

The Brakken (Brekken) family originated in Stordal, Norway, occupying one of the tenant farms in the desolate valley west of Trondheim near the Swedish border. Brekke is norwegian for steep hill, describing the lay of the land upon which the farm is situated. During the Norwegian emmigration, only Elias and Bernt Brekken left for Minnesota. The remainder of the family stayed. Indeed, we are related to our Norwegian relatives through the marriage of Johanna Pederson Stenoien (sister to Lars and Ole Pederson Stenoien), the only Stenoien who remained in the valley after 1879. Johanna (4/27/1850 – 10/1/1926) married Johannes Johnson Brekken (5-18-1845 – 5/4/1931).

Elias (1852 -) and Marta (1853) Brakken moved from Gordon Township in 1906 to homestead in Divide County. Initially, they only brought one son, Peter Brakken along. Jerald Stenoien recounts an amusing story about Peter, who farmed the homestead (which according to Jerald, was lost to the bank purportedly because a payment arrived one hour late!). Jerald recalls Peter being a “happy-go-lucky” guy who was apparently discouraged from drinking at home. “One day, he came walking across our farm, singing loudly, with a jug in his hand. He took one last draught, stashed the drug in the pigsty, and headed for home. A month or so later, he returned on a visit. I mentioned the jug to him. Without a word, Peter retrieved the jug and headed out across the prairie!) For more information about the family of Elias and Marta Brakken, as well as their descendants, please refer to the Divide County web page.

Bernt Brakken came to Gordon Township from Stordal, Norway, in the 1870’s. He arrived in the first group of Stordal settlers, along with Lars Pederson Stenoien (brother of bestefar, Ole Pederson Stenoien, my great-grandfather). Bernt homesteaded on section 13, marrying Ingeborg Pederson Stenoien (sister to Lars and Ole), who arrived in 1879.

Bernt and Ingeborg  Brakken had 9 children:

  • Johannes Brakken (10/1888 – 1918). Johannes travelled to Fertile Valley Township, Divide County, North Dakota, along with Peder and Svend Stenoien, to homestead a tract of land, north of Peder’s tract.
  • Pauli Brakken (2/1890 – 1919)
  • (Ole) Martin Brakken (9/1891 – 1974); a happy-go lucky fellow, fond of playing tricks on people.
  • Minnie Brakken (11/1893 – 1984) married Peder Brakken (her cousin, son of Elias and Marte Brakken);  children Beatrice (married four or five times), Ruth, William (daughter Bonnie Brakken, Seattle)
  • Clara Brakken (3/1895 – 1984) married Gilbert Gillan (children Phillip, Russell, Marjorie and Richard)
  • Sigurd Brakken (11/1896 – 1966); he never married
  • Iva Brakken (12/1898 – 1980)
  • Pete Brakken (?)
  • Hulda Brakken (1901 – 1906)