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As It Was: Young Man Saves Klamath River Girl from Matched Suitor

Eleanor Halverson was only 9 years old when her mother died on the family’s Klamath River ranch.  The young girl assumed the duties of running the household, including caring for her 5-year-old brother, Charlie.

Her Norwegian father, Aslak Halverson, and a partner owned the Irving Creek Mine at the Oak Flat Ranch. One of his Chinese cooks taught Eleanor to cook and to make bread.

Halverson was determined his daughter would marry a white man, even although she was part Yurok and spoke its language fluently. When a Mr. Powell appeared seeking work, Halverson hired him and began arranging his marriage to Eleanor.

Eleanor disliked Mr. Powell, but did not know how to resist her father, until young Theodore Torgerson came to visit. Torgerson, also Norwegian, had heard of Eleanor and been told how they would make a perfect couple. Eleanor and Theodore fell in love instantly and on his second visit he asked for her hand.

Eleanor’s father gave them his blessing.  They married in May 1897 and went on to raise a family of seven children.

Source: Reisner, Mae Olive T. “The Courtship of Eleanor and Theodore.” The Siskiyou Pioneer. 2nd ed., Yreka, Siskiyou County Historical Society, 1984, pp. 97-101.

Gail Fiorini-Jenner is a writer and teacher. Her first novel "Across the Sweet Grass Hills", won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of Jefferson, The State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.