Manfred History & Preservation, Inc.
O.K. and Mary Melby
Husband's Full Name: Ole K. Melby
Husband's Place of Birth: Rogne, Øystre Slidre, Valdres, Norway
Husband's Father's Name: Knut Olsen Rudi
Husband's Mother's Name: Guri Kristensdotter Melby
Husband's Siblings' Names: Guri Ranum, Kristen, Knut, Ragnhild Skattebo, Gulbrand, Marit, Caroline Anderson, Martin, Oscar
Wife's Full Name: Marit Skattebo Melby
Wife's Place of Birth: Øystre Slidre, Valdres, Norway
Wife's Father's Name: Nils Kristoferson Nordtorp
Wife's Mother's Name: Karrina Knutsdatter Skattebo
Wife's Siblings' Names:
Child's Names: Gurina Olava Melby
Ole, also known as O.K. Melby, was born December 13, 1864, growing up on the Norway. In 1881 when he was 16½ years old, he immigrated with his family to the USA, Goodhue County, Minnesota. It is said that he returned to Norway and spent two years there working to pay off a debt the family had incurred enabling them to come to America. In 1884, his parents moved to Griggs County North Dakota where they had filed on a homestead, and in 1887 they moved to Foster County. Here Ole filed on his own land and started farming.
On December 23, 1889 he married Marit Skattebo, known as Mary. Mary was born in Øystre Slidre, Valdres, Norway on September 18, 1872 to Karina Skattebo and Nils Nordtorp. She immigrated to the USA with her family in 1884. They settled at Northfield, MN remaining there three years, before moving to Foster County in 1887. There she met and married Ole. Their only child, Gurina Olava Melby, died in infancy.
In 1890, Ole, his father Knud, his uncle T.K. Rogne and others, founded the Melby School District in Foster County. But, in 1892 the crops had failed, so times were desperate. Many, including Ole, found work building the railroad track through ND. As they worked westward through Wells County, Ole and others decided to file on land there in 1893, and then in 1894 moved their families and few belongings. For a number of years, Ole and Mary were busy farming on their land north of Manfred, and Ole owning and operating a threshing outfit for the fall harvest.
In addition to farming, Ole also bought grain in the early years. Later he established the Manfred Lumber Company, and was also associated in a garage business. Ole and Mary built a home in Manfred in 1903, where they lived the remainder of their lives. They were charter members of Vang Lutheran church, and very active throughout the years with both church and community. Their financial backing and participation in the community was a significant help to Manfred. Mary died November 8, 1936 and Ole died October 24, 1940. Both are buried at Vang Lutheran Cemetery of Manfred, ND.
Story of Mary:
Mary Skattebo, at the age of nine, left her native land, Norway, in 1884. She was accompanied by her parents who sailed for America that year.
Upon reaching the United States, the family settled at Northfield, Minnesota, remaining there for three years. While North Dakota was still a territory, settlers came in great numbers to file on government land. Each settler was entitled to preemption, a tree claim and a homestead, each consisting of 160 acres. It was in 1887, when Mrs. Melby came with her father and mother to what was then known as the Paradise Prairie, near McHenry, ND. Here she grew to young womanhood, doing her share in overcoming pioneer obstacles. At seventeen she was married to Mr. O. K. Melby, a young farmer of the community. Due to unproductive crops, people moved out in great numbers. In the company of relatives and friends, the young couple came to Wells County and filed on a homestead four miles north of Manfred.
Almost sixty years since they settled here, their farm today stands as evidence of the tenacious spirit, of great faith and of the faithful labor so characteristic of the pioneer man and woman. It is one of the thousands of well-improved farmsteads adorning this part of the state.
After eight years of successful farming, Mr. Melby established a lumberyard in the little town of Manfred and founded a home there, and this is where they resided until their passing.
Mr. and Mrs. Melby were members of the Vang Congregation from its beginning and Mrs. Melby became a charter member of the Vang Ladies Aid in 1896. For a period of over forty years she was an active member and served as its president for several terms. An ardent worker, she gave much of herself and substance to further the cause of this organization. Especially during the first World War she lent valuable aid to the Red Cross and other community projects.
Mrs. Melby passed away in 1936 leaving four sisters and her husband to mourn her loss. She was laid to rest in the Vang Cemetery with the Rev. J. M. Langseth and the Rev. Mehlen officiating at the last rites.