The persistent shall be rewarded... I just received word that a lady (Astri) in Norway is scanning some old letters for me; they were sent to her relatives in Hemne, Soer-Troendelag, by Winje Family members as early as 1869. I was bouncing off the wall after reading her e-mail!
The letters are all in Norwegian, of course, which means some translation is in order. It is exciting to know that more family history will be discovered, but the main thing that touches me is the ability to "see" into the thoughts and expressions of the letter-writers. It is like receiving a letter myself from someone I have always wanted to know. Even more special that the letters cross time, as well as space: a couple of them are 138 years old. I am told that some are from Lars Eriksen Winje, and also his eldest son, Eric, but also Eric's younger brother, Ingebrigt, about whom nothing is really known yet. Another letter is by Eric's eldest daughter, Regina Winje Strand, who wrote to tell her father's friends that her uncle, Ingebrigt Winje, was dead. Regina was only a girl when she wrote the letter (about 16), and not too many years later, at age 25, she died of "heart disease" on her grandfather's homestead in Sparta Township, near Wegdahl. She had given birth to six children by then.
How did I originally find out that any letters existed? A few years ago, I discovered an online article written by a gentleman, now deceased, who happens to be Astri's father. Surprisingly, the article was about the Winje Family, who in 1869, were apparently the first to leave their village of Vinjeoera for America (http://www.hemneslekt.net/). I e-mailed the webmaster of the site, who put me in contact with Astri. She very graciously offered to help, and I can hardly wait... It's like Christmas at age five, all over again.