Gunil Bjornsdtr Hegland 1860-1897
"Gunild Bjornsdtr" was born on January 22, 1860 outside Rushford, Minnesota in Fillmore County. Her parents were Bjorn Gunderson and Helge Christophersdtr, also known as Ben and Harriet Benson. She was baptized at Highland Prairie Lutheran Church on January 28, 1860. "Gunil Gunderson" was confirmed there on October 18, 1874.
"Gunil Bjornson" married Thor Hegland at the parsonage of Highland Prairie Church on February 12, 1887. She returned to North Dakota with him that spring. The couple had 6 children.
Her daughter Sophie credited Gunil with being an excellent cook and gardener, skilled as a seamstress and quilter. She was also expert at embroidery. Although she looks a bit dour in the portrait on this page, Sophie said Gunil had a twinkle in her eye and enjoyed laughing and dancing. She was a popular friend and confidante to the women in their ND farm community, and there was overwhelming sadness at her decline and death.
Given the frontier nature of the area, it is not surprising that there is no official record of her death, and no specific cause of death is known. It seems that she did not recover after the birth of her son Carl, and Sophie reported that Gunil spent the last few months of her life in bed. According to Willow Creek Church records, "Gunild" died September 19, 1897 and was buried in Willow Creek Church Cemetery on September 21.
In Thor's obituary, Gunil is identified as "Gunil Endru." Her given name was also spelled "Gunhild" in some sources, and in the 1880 US Census it appears to have been Anglicized to "Julia." A woman with many names!