Kristian Prestgard

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Kristian Prestgard (Heidal, 29 April 1866 – Decorah, Iowa, 25 January 1946) was a Norwegian-born, naturalised American, author and the editor of the Norwegian language newspaper Decorah-Posten in Iowa from 1923 until 1946.


Kristian Prestgard was born in Heidal in Kristians Amt, Norway. His parents were Gudbrand Kristensen Harelstad (1829–69) and Marit Prestgard (1841–97). When his father died early, Kristian moved with his mother back to her childhood home. He grew up on the Prestgard farm in Lillehammer.[1]


Prestgard started folk high school in Gudbrandsdal. After two years at the Askov Højskole in Jutland, Denmark (1886–88), he started teaching at the folk high school operated by Johan Christian Viggo Ullmann in Seljord. His first year as a teacher at Ullmann's school in Seljord was interrupted by a severe illness followed by two years of recuperation. His second teaching position at the folk high school of Olaus Arvesen at Hamar, was canceled before it had begun because of Arvesen's election to the Parliament of Norway. As consequence, Prestgard was offered a job in Arvesen's newspaper, Oplandenes Avis, which began his career as a journalist.

He attended the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago as a correspondent for Norwegian newspapers. Instead of returning home to Norway, he started working in the Norwegian-American press. In 1897, he married Orlaug Museum and took a position with a Norwegian language newspaper company in La Crosse, Wisconsin.[2]

In 1898, he joined the editorial staff of Decorah-Posten. Together with Johannes B. Wist, he also edited the Norwegian-language periodical Symra from 1905 to 1914. He became editor-in-chief of Decorah-Posten in 1923 following the death of Johannes Wist. Prestgard was also one of the founders of the Norwegian-American Historical Association in 1925. He was appointed a Knight of the Order of St. Olav by the King of Norway during 1926. [3]

Prestgard was also an author, principally of Norwegian-language books. Probably the most widely known of these work was En Sommer i Norge, his account of a journey to Norway with a group of American journalists during 1927. Shortly prior to his death in 1946, he was able to complete his memoirs, From My Life as a Newspaperman in America. The Memoirs of Kristian Prestgard.[4]

Selected works[edit]

  • Nansenfærden (Minneapolis, MN: 1896)
  • Norske Kvad, 1814–1905 (Decorah,Iowa: 1906)
  • En Sommer I Norge: I; Fra Den Gamle Heimbygd (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 1928)
  • Fjords and Faces (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 1937)
  • Streiftog: Stemninger og Skildringer (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 1937)


Other sources[edit]

  • Bergmann, L. N.: Americans from Norway (New York. 1950)
  • Øverland, Orm : The Western Home. A History of Norwegian America (Northfield, MN 1996)