in Telemark Norway
Aslak Tarjeison Skrei was born in 1785 Brunkeberg, Kviteseid parish, Telemark. His father took over the Skrei farm in Weum annex in 1795. He was a member of the bonder class, but Aslak was a restless soul. According to a Norwegian genealogy written by Bendik Veum, he moved from farm to farm in the district. Aslak was always willing to take on a new challenge, and apparently had the skills and intelligence to succeed at whatever he set out to do. According to oral tradition, there were sometimes "bidding wars" for his services. He was referred to as "The Gypsy" by many family members.
Aslak inherited his father Tarje's farm on Skree upon his death in 1820 and sold it to Talleiv Anundson in 1831. When Aase is baptized in 1833, Aslak was listed as the gaardmand on Nusvik. Records from 1843 show that Aslak and his family were leiglendinger (have a lease) on the Graver farm.
The church record from Fyresdal indicates that Aslak died on February 2, 1846 and was buried there on February 9. It is said that he died as a result of injuries incurred during a stallion fight, a dangerous betting sport that placed stallions in a pen with a mare in heat, sometimes with riders on the stallions. It is not clear if Aslak was a rider, horse owner or an observer. (He was, after all, 60 years old.)
Kristi's brother, Aslach, had already gone to America in 1843. It appears that Aslak made a down payment on an immigrant ship in the fall of 1845, intending to leave the next spring. After her husband's death, for Kristi, now a widow with teen-aged children, joining her brother in Wisconsin may have been the family's best option.
Their traveling companions included Kittel Knudsen Snartland and his family, Herjus Osmundsen Grunnevig and his pregnant wife, Anne Gjermundsdtr. This group signed out of Moland parish together, in entries carrying the date June 29, 1846. (There is an oral tradition that says they actually left Telemark a few days earlier, on Jonsoksdag, 1846.)
for Tarje's Mother
Aasne Olesdtr (b. 1785)
Olesen (b. 1794)
The Graver Farm
Obert Grover visited Norway around 1970. This picture shows him surveying the Graver (Gr-ah-ver) farm in Telemark, the place Aslak worked and lived with his family at the time of his death.
Like many Norwegian immigrants, Kristi reported the farm name as the family's last name when they entered America. However, in 1850 the census shows the family using the patronymic, "Aslacksen" as a last name. Tarje and Ole returned to the use of the farm name - this time spelled "Grover" rather than "Graver" - in the records in Houston County, MN.
It is said that Tarje and Geline pronounced the name properly, but within a generation the pronunciation matched the spelling (Gr-oh-ver). Grover is categorized as a British name in most name directories but make no mistake: These Grovers were strong, proud Norwegian stock!!
Interested in more information
Link to the Surname Web!
If you travel to Skien, Telemark today, you might catch sight of a truck wearing the name we might have had!