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Gulbrand and Esther Melby

Husband's Full Name:  Gulbrand Knutson Melby

Husband's Place of Birth:  Rogne, Øystre Slidre, Valdres, Norway

Husband's Father's Name: Knud Olsen Rudi

Husband's Mother's Name: Guri Kristensdotter Melby

Husband's Siblings' Names: Guri, Ole, Christen, Knute, Ragnhild, Marit, Martin, Caroline, Oscar

Wife's Full Name:  Esther LeGrand

Wife's Place of Birth:  Skane, Gotland, Sweden

Wife's Father's Name:  Joseph LeGrand

Wife's Mother's Name:  Anna Christina Lindstrom

Wife's Siblings' Names:  Axel, Inez, Sarah, David, Hulda, Gertrude, Harry and Clara

Children's Names: Georgiana Nelson, Carlton, Arthur, Marion Peterson, Ida Erickson, Elmer, Gordon, Morris, Evelyn, Raymond, Earl, Alice Peterson, Irene Haines

b6Gilbert Melby Family.jpg

Gilbert Melby Family 1950s

Back: Morris, Carlton, Raymond, Elmer, Arthur

Middle: Alice, Marion, Ceclia, Ida

Front: Irene, Gilbert, Earl


Gulbrand, known as G.K. or Gilbert Melby, was the sixth child born to Knud and Guri Melby on April 4, 1977. During his earliest years, he lived on the Melby farm in Rogne, Øystre Slidre, Valdres, Norway and attended Rogne church. In 1881 when he had just turned 4 years old, his parents sold the Melby farm and the whole family emigrated from Norway to Goodhue County, Minnesota. In 1884, his parents homesteaded in Griggs County, North Dakota, and in 1887 they moved to Foster County and farmed there for six years, and then in 1893 his parents moved again to the newly opened land of Manfred Township in Wells County.


Gilbert was too young to file on a homestead having just turned 16, but he was able to helped his parents start up their new farm. Gilbert was very musical and could play several instruments. With his great love of music it is very likely that he played with some of the local orchestra groups. It was at Manfred where Gilbert met Esther LeGrand. She was born September 7, 1873 in Skane, Gotland, Sweden, with the given name of Astrid Hildegard LeGrand, to Joseph Alfred LeGrand and Anna Kristina Lindstrom. She had immigrated to the USA in 1885 with her parents, first settling at Northwood, ND before coming to Manfred Township.


Gilbert and Esther were married on December 11, 1895 at Manfred. Gilbert and Esther bought the land located in section 30 of Manfred Township that had been in the LeGrand family. Sometime during these years at Manfred, Gilbert was working in one of the elevators. Due to an accident while employed there, he lost a foot but didn't let this hold him back in any way. With the help of an artificial foot he managed very well, as if he had two feet. Few even realized that he had an artificial foot, having only a slight limp.


Gilbert and Esther moved to Kenmare in 1904, to Coteau in 1909, then to Bowbells, and lastly to a farm west of Bowbells. Thirteen children were born to them: Cecelia 1896, Carlton 1897, Arthur 1899, Marion 1900,  Ida 1901, Elmer 1902, Gordon 1904, Morris 1906, Evelyn 1907, Raymond 1909, Earl 1911, Alice 1913, Irene 1916. Nine have descendants, Cecelia did not have children, Gordon died at age 24 from tuberculosis, Morris remained single, Evelyn took ill and died at age 18.


Gilbert farmed most of his life and was a wonderful musician. He directed the Coteau Band and many of his sons also played in his band. He was also the band director at Bowbells. He was also well known as a grain buyer, school board member of Coteau, served in the Minnesota Township and Ward Township Boards of Burke County, served on the Selective Service Board for Burke County during both World Wars I and II, served one term as Burke County auditor 1914-1920. He belonged to the Bowbells Masonic Lodge and the Minot Elks Lodge. Gilbert was afflicted with Hodgkin’s disease, which his daughter Alice also has. Esther was quiet, so caring and thoughtful regarding each family member, a fine Christian woman, and well respected in the community. Esther died May 30, 1938 at the Bowbells Hospital as the result of heart and kidney complications. Gilbert died October 9, 1963 at the Kenmare Hospital of complications resulting from a stroke.

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