The Crossing

The passage of Nils and Berit Knudson to the New World


Mark A. Ranum

November 22, 2006

This drawing is of a schooner class vessel, much like the Zephyr.

Sometime probably in June of 1852, a young couple, 22 years of age, boarded the schooner Zephyr at a dock in Bergen, Norway. Nils Knudson and Berit, his wife of two years, had just sold their half of a farm named Raneimsmarken in Norway and were about to embark on what must have seemed to them, the adventure of a lifetime. Nils and Berit were following the trail already blazed by thousands of folks from Norway seeking a life in the New World. To captain Henricksen of the Zephyr, Nils and Berit were known as passenger 36 and 37 (1). To the sons and daughters of Edward N. and Gertrude M. Ranum, they are known as greatgrandfather Nils K. Ranum and great grandmother Berit Ranum.

Little is known of their journey across the Atlantic other than the Zephyr (2) was a boat of schooner class and carried only 61 passengers. She was a relatively small boat and was probably tossed about extensively on the waves of the big waters. Based on information from similar voyages of the time, they probably paid about 20 specieldalers per person or 515 of today's US dollars. We can also speculate that living conditions on the schooner were probably cramped, bad smelling, and that there was little personal privacy. The young pioneers were probably to provide their own food for the first part of the voyage and enjoyed barely edible flat bread, salted meat, and sour milk when their food was expended. More information on these adventurous crossings is available on a web site dedicated to preserving that history (3).

The city of New York had already become a bustling travel center of a half million inhabitants by the time Nils and Berit arrived at New York on July 28th of 1852. It is uncertain where they would have entered the US in New York as Ellis Island's fore-runner, Castle Garden (formerly named Fort Castle Clinton) was not yet established as the first US port of entry. They would not have been welcomed by the Statue of Liberty as it would not be built for another 33 years. It was a city of about 500,000 inhabitants at the time and must have been quite an experience for the young couple.

Notes and references:

Additional information for Nels Knutson Ranum

(Information is not confirmed and is based on the assumption that the names listed are indeed that of our ancestors. It should be noted that tracking name spellings of that era is like trying to nail jelly to a tree. If passenger 36 and 37 are indeed them, the spelling of Berits' name is Berith. The age of Nils does seem to match. It is unlikely that the combination of Nils, Berith, age, and time of arrival could indicate anything other than this listing is that of our ancestors.)

Traveled to US aboard the schooner Zephyr in 1852.
Listed as passenger #36,Nils Knudson, male, age 22 and passenger #37 Berith Knudson*, female, age 22 (61 passengers listed)
source =
Departed from Bergen. Date not know but average crossing was about 40 days in 1852.
Arrived in New York on July 28, 1852 (another source says July 29).
The Zephyr was owned by L. Nicolaison and captained by Hendriksen
The L. Nicolaison fleet included:
Brig Bjørgvin built in 1849
Schooner Zepher (not much information available on this ship)
source =

Cost of voyage not known but:

Similar voyage cost was about 20 speciedalers per person or approximately 516 US dollars at a 1997 value . This did not necessarily include food or landing fee.

Speciedaler (Spd.) was used as the main currency in Norway between 1816 and 1872. One Speciedaler could be divided in to 5 ort (mark) or in to 120 Skilling. The abbreviation for Speciedaler is Spd.
Between 1872 and 1874 the currency was changed from Speciedaler to Kroner. 1 Speciedaler was made equal to 4 Kroner. 1 Krone is divided into 100 øre. The abbreviation used for Kroner is Kr. or NOK.

In 1859 10 Spd. would be just about 11,9 USD
In 1866 10 Spd. would be just about 16,0 USD
In 1867 10 Spd. would be just about 11,8 USD
In 1868 10 Spd. would be just about 11,7 USD
In 1867 10 Spd. would be just about 11,6 USD
100 1867 Spd. is equivalent to 20138 - 1997 NOK which was about 2582 - 1997 USD.

source =

Return to Ranum History Home Page