A claim shanty built by a Norwegian immigrant in 1885 has made a permanent home on the Moody County Museum grounds.
Volunteers loaded the 12-foot-by-14-foot building built as the first permanent home of Nels Waxdahl and pulled it on a flatbed to the north edge of the museum ground on a foggy morning on Dec. 21. Waxdahl built the home 133 years ago after he settled here and before he married in 1885. Before that, he lived in a sod house.
Waxdahl immigrated from Vaksdal, Norway, an area near Bergen. Under the Homestead Act, anyone who wanted to claim 160 acres needed to build a dwelling on their claim to prove they would be a resident.
Waxdahl’s granddaughter, Joyce Schroeder, still lives on the homestead located two miles south of Highway 34 at the Royal River Casino corner and a half mile west in Grovena Township.
Schroeder, 92, decided to donate the building to the museum so that it will be taken care of in the future. “If I’m not there anymore, what would they do with it?” she wondered of future owners. “It’s rare because there aren’t many around.”
Schroeder, who planted flowers by the shanty’s front door even until recently, remembers working with her mother in the building, and her daughter Glenda Derdall of Lake Campbell shares some of the memories from growing up there, as well. Both stopped to see the shanty be placed on the foundation at its new home.
“I remember washing clothes out there,” Schroeder said. The building also was used to dress chickens, pot plants and store off-season items.
The building is one room inside with a tiny loft above.
Brian Bergjord and Tom Hagedorn, along with a handful of others helped move and set the building in place on a cement pad. By using blocks and forklifts, they lowered the building from trailer height to ground level. The shanty still is on one block so the bottom edge can be repaired, Bergjord said. “We have to fix some of the boards.”