Birth and Childhood of Henry Lee
from "Dadda" by Alexander Lee
The year was 1853 [Editor's note KMC: according to his marriage certificate it was May 30,1852 but according to the Etne birth records and a letter his daughter wrote it was March 18, 1849 ]. The place was Etne, Norway. The occasion was the birth of the Halvorson’s ninth child, a boy with blue eyes and light – almost white – hair. His voice was loud and demanding and his feet were as busy as the pistons of a locomotive.
He became an orphan at age 9, and was bound out to a sheep owner who was obligated to reward his labors with the equivalent of $2 and a pair of shoes every year. His older brothers were farmers, carpenters, or joiners, and their cast-off clothing sufficed for the young boy above his shoe tops.
After a year of tending flocks, he left the sheep and went to live with an older brother who had shown an interest in his life.[KMC: This older brother was Aamund Skjold and we are in touch with his descendants in Norway] His brother had a small but prosperous farm up in the hills near Etne [KMC :farm Skjold, sold out of the family in about 2000, but they kept the upper pasture cottage for a vacation home]. He was given the task of washing dishes, cleaning the house, and caring for the baby. They were kind to him and he was well fed but he was an energetic boy with a yearning for the sea and far off places – especially America. He found the house very confining. He didn’t mind making the lunch, because he loved to eat. One of his duties was to call his brother and sister-in-law in from the field at noon, for lunch.
He liked swinging the heavy brass bell that announced lunch to the far corners of the farm. He liked it even more when they came in, washed up, and sat down to the thick soup or stew that he had prepared.
One day about a month after he had arrived at his brother’s farm, the baby began to cry and no matter what he tried to do the baby wouldn’t stop. He changed the baby, burped the child and carried her in his arms. The baby would stop for a few minutes and then continue to cry. He became worried, and in desperation he moved the hands of the kitchen clock ahead a half hour so he could ring the lunch bell.
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