Flying Farmers

The Aasen family and flying farmers

By Georgia Rosendahl
Giants of the Earth Heritage Center
(Originally published in the Spring Grove Herald 3/19/2013)

Back in the late 1940s, there was a young flying farmer who would fly his airplane from the Hillsboro area of North Dakota to look after a land interest east of Spring Grove.

The renter of the property at that time was Ole Ostern, who had a daughter by the name of LaVonne. This flying farmer proceeded to court LaVonne, and they were married Jan. 25, 1950. His name was Milton Jennings Aasen. When he flew down here, he probably landed on Sig Bergrud’s field at the edge of Spring Grove.

In 1946, Melvin Trehus, Gerhard Clausen and James Sylling were instrumental in starting the Flying Farmers Club here in Spring Grove.

Many, many men and women once belonged to this club. I would recommend “Flaps Up” by Glenn A. Kinneberg to learn about all the flying that once took place in Spring Grove and the surrounding areas.

It was a great way of conducting business back then, from flying for machinery parts to attending all kinds of meetings.

I had known Lavonne Ostern from Spring Grove High School (Class of 1948) and later when she worked at the Spring Grove Hospital.

But after she was married, I didn’t see her again until one fall when my husband Donald and I attended the Minnesota State Fair, where we ran into her and Milton. I believe they flew down to attend the fair.

In 1960, Milton was the president of the North Dakota Flying Farmers Association. They also belonged to the National Flying Farmers of which Milton once was president, and which once chose LaVonne as their Flying Farmer Queen.

Milton had a brother by the name of Tilford. They were sons of Theodore Aasen and Clara Brenden.

On the Brenden side of the family, I became acquainted with Dave Lee, a friend of Lee and Louise Sundet and a sports announcer for WCCO, who also came to Spring Grove a few years ago to find his Brenden relatives – a story for a later time.

I never met Tilford, but we had telephone conversations, and we helped him with his genealogy.

These Aasens were rooted in Norderhov, Buskerud, Norway. Their great-grandparents, Torkel Bjornsen Oppegaard and Barbra Mikkelsdatter, spent all their lives there, but at least four of their seven children had ties to Spring Grove. These were:

• Ole Torkelsen Aasen, married Marie O. Lien; the parents of Theodore Aasen, father of three children, Tilford and Milton already mentioned, and a third son Lawrence who I have no further information on.

• Marthe Torkelsdatter, born Feb. 12, 1836, in Lunder, Norderhov, married Even Olsen Aasen. They were both born on the Oppegaard farm, but lived on Aasen before they emigrated in 1869 coming directly to Houston County. Even and Marthe purchased 40 acres of land in Sheldon Township, but in 1882 sold the land to their son, Torkel, and moved to Norman County, Minn. They had eight children.

• Bjorn Torkelsen Aasen married Kjersti Hendricksdatter. Kjersti was the daughter of Hendrick Olsen Gronvold and Mari Nielsdatter, and so a sister to my great-grandfather, Ole Hendricksen Gronvold, who was married to Barbro Ankerson. Bjorn & Kjersti moved to Fertile, Polk County, Minn.

• Inger Torkelsdatter, married Erik Gundersen Pladsen. They lived in Black Hammer Township and were the parents of Gunder, who married Marie Svave; Torkel Pladsen; Berthe, who married Frank Robbins; Albert Pladsen; Andrew, who married Minnie Raithel; Mathilda Pladsen; Bernt, who married Martha Lee; Theoline; and Edvard.

There were two Oluf’s – one died in 1897, but no record of the other. As far as I know most of these children moved west except for Albert and Bernt who lived in the Black Hammer area.

Additions and corrections to these columns are welcome. Call (507) 498-5070 or email

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