There were three facts Russ Helgesen knew growing up: That his great-grandfather’s name was Helge Moen, that his ancestors came from Nissedal, Norway, and that he had no living relatives there. None of those “facts” turned out to be true.
During a trip back to his ancestral lands, Russ visited the Moen farm—where the mistaken name originated—and met cousins who share the same common ancestor: Jon På Valebjørg, born in 1370. This extensive genealogical history, in which Russ uncovers nearly 1,000 of Jon På Valebjørg’s descendants, unfolds as a rich tapestry of a stoic, reserved yet loving people. From Majestic Fjords to the Mighty Mississippi: A Wisconsin Farm Boy Finds His Roots in Norway is an engaging and universal story of the people we love, our connection to the earth, our search to know God, and the contribution we make on our journey through life.
Russ leaves his legacy in these memoirs, a celebration of his 90 years on this earth. If you happen to be one of the descendants of Hølje Pålson Grovum (Russ’s great grandfather’s real name) and his son, Jon Høljesen Grovum (aka John Helgesen) listed in this book you will be doubly blessed, as this is your story.
Mary Helgesen Gabel
daughter of Russell Helgesen
granddaughter of Paul Helgesen
great granddaughter of Jon Høljesen Grovum
great great granddaughter of Hølje Pålson Grovum
14th (and 16th) great granddaughter of Jon På Valebjørg