We’re driving down Highway 27 from Tomah, thru Sparta, Westby, Viroqua, and enter Crawford County at Rising Sun. I grew up in the heart of Crawford County on the Scheckel farm 2 miles northwest of Seneca. On our last visit we passed the Lynch farm and are now approaching Seneca. On the north end was the Vedvik saw mill. Jacob R. Vedvik (1885-1975) and Agnes Vedvik (1898-1975) were the parents of Howdy and Jacob.
The Vedvik’s came from Nordfjord, Norway near the village of Stryn. Vedviks remain living and farming 100 acres or 400 mal , and the name of the farm is Vedvik. Jacob (senior) came to the United States at age 18 or about 1903.
Jacob (the son) was born in 1924 and seems to know all the history of the Seneca area. Jacob’s mother was an Anderson and taught four years at Stony Point School, starting in 1918. She, Agnes (Anderson) Vedvik, then taught two years in Seneca, three years in Eastman, and was principal for four years at Seneca Grade School. She married Jacob Vedvik, Sr. after her last year of teaching.
One of her students was a James Maney and was in Agnes Vedvik’s eight grade class in Seneca. He lived on our Scheckel farm. My Dad bought that farm from Pat Maney, Jim’s father, in 1945.
Jacob and other Norwegian kids attended the Norwegian School on the Payne farm two weeks each late summer until they were confirmed in the Lutheran faith. Those two weeks overlapped with the public schools in the area, so they missed two weeks of public school in early October. Payne bought that farm in 1936-37 from Jacob’s grandfather.
When I was ten years old, our Dad, Alvin Scheckel, took Phillip, Bob and me into that Norwegian school that was right across the ShortCut road next door to our land. The school door was not locked and Dad told us not to touch anything. The school had no electricity, but had kerosene lamps, with reflectors, on the walls. Shutters protected the glass windows. It amazed me that the Norwegian school was about the same as our Oak Grove School; wooden desks, teachers desk up front, blackboards, pot bellied wood-burning stove, American flag, large photos of Lincoln and Washington, pull-down maps, and shelves for books.
That old Norwegian School was taken out of there in about 1950 and is now a private house in Gays Mills. We kids on the Scheckel place saw that school carried on a flatbed truck, going up Shortcut road, turning left and moving slowly up the hill next to our “hill pasture”.
In his youth, Jacob Vedvik “rode the carriage” of that sawmill. We Scheckels cut some big logs, loaded three at a time on a box wagon, and used the Massey Harris ’44 to haul them to the Vedvik saw mill in Seneca. Later, we brought the sawed lumber and the slabs back to the farm. We built a corn crib and hog house with the lumber and cut up the slabs for firewood.
When I was in high school at Seneca from 1956 to 1960, Jacob Vedvik was my math teacher, and a very good one.