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Tosten E. Bonde Farmhouse

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Tosten E. Bonde Farmhouse

The Tosten E. Bonde farmhouse, 2019. Used with the permission of Rice County Historical Society.

The Tosten E. Bonde Farmhouse, built of locally quarried limestone in 1875, is one of the oldest structures of its kind in Wheeling Township, Rice County. The Bonde family emigrated from Norway to Minnesota in 1849 and homesteaded land in 1855. The private home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

In 1849, Einer and Berit Bonde emigrated from Vang, Valdres, Norway, with their two sons, Tosten and Halvor. Berit’s daughter, Kari, from a previous marriage, and her husband, Thomas Veblen, had immigrated to the United States two years earlier in 1847. The Veblens were the parents of famed sociologist and economist Thorstein Veblen. According to family history, the Bondes “dreamed of following Kari’s footsteps to the new world.”

The Bonde family lived in Port Washington, Wisconsin, before moving to Winneshiek County, Iowa, in the spring of 1854. The following year, on June 9, the family settled on 160 acres in section 11 of Wheeling Township in Minnesota Territory. In 1866, the Veblens moved from Mount Vernon, Wisconsin, to a farm in Wheeling Township, Minnesota. The rural community of primarily Norwegian settler-colonists was composed of respected farmers and civic leaders, including Halvor Quie and Osmund Osmundson, founder of Nerstrand.

From 1855 to 1875, the family resided in a log home. In 1865, Tosten, who was described as a “very able young man,” purchased the farm from his father. His brother Halvor, a Civil War veteran, had settled in Swift County, Minnesota. Two years later, Tosten married Ingebor Hougen on April 3, 1867. They had eleven children, born between 1868 and 1887. Tosten’s family lived with his parents until the stone house was completed in the summer of 1875. His father, Einer, passed away on August 27, 1875, and Berit died on March 12, 1877.

In a diary started in 1888, Tosten Bonde noted the improvements to the farm site: a barn was added in 1870, the stone farmhouse in 1875, a machinery shed in 1883, a granary in 1886, and a milkhouse in 1887. The two-and-a-half-story, L-shaped farmhouse was built on a small rise and constructed of locally quarried limestone from the Nerstrand and Faribault area. Situated near a well-traveled highway approximately one mile from Nerstrand, the gabled farmhouse became a focal landmark in rural Rice County after its completion in 1875.

The farmstead, which is still owned by Bonde family descendants in 2020, is in many respects a “living” document to rural agricultural heritage and practices by a single family dating back to Minnesota’s territorial days. Tosten’s diary offers glimpses into late-nineteenth-century farm life with entries like: “The year, 1887, was very dry and the chinch bug destroyed all the wheat and part of the oats. The hay crop was very short.” In his entry for April 12, 1891, he wrote: “Horses are sick from distemper.” The family history noted that Oscar, a son, remarked they cured the horses by “burning rubbers and had the horses inhale the fumes.”

The family history also tells of tragedy within the farmhouse’s stone walls. When an epidemic of black measles occurred in late March and early April of 1882, three sons died in one week: Edward, who was fourteen, Ingebrit, who was six, and Albert, who was barely a year old, fell victim to the disease. According to family lore, when Ingebor worked in her garden, “she would look to Valley Grove Cemetery and long for her little ones buried there on the distant hill.”

In 1890, Tosten was elected to the Minnesota State Legislature; he was reelected the following year. By early 1895, he developed stomach cancer, and he passed away at his home on October 14, 1897. The fifty-four-year-old was survived by his wife and seven children. One obituary noted he was “a good citizen and highly esteemed and respected in the community.”

In February 1981, Britta Bloomberg’s submission for the Minnesota Historical Properties Inventory Form stated, “The Bonde Farmhouse is significant both for its association with a prominent immigrant family and for its notable limestone construction and outstanding integrity.” In April 1982, the private home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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P0539 Family Histories and Genealogies, Box 53
Bonde, Einer Halvorson 1800–1875
Archives, Norwegian-American Historical Association, St. Olaf College, Northfield
Description: Includes transcription of Tosten Bonde’s diary and typed family history notes compiled by Helen Lodmill, Burien, Washington, July 1985.
Holding location: St. Olaf College

Bloomberg, Britta. “Bonde Farmhouse.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form, February 1981.

“Death of Hon. Tosten E. Bonde.” Kenyon Leader, October 28, 1897.

“Hon. T. E. Bonde Dead.” Northfield News, October 23, 1897.

Norway Lake Lutheran Historical Association. Halvor E. Bonde and Martine P. Amundson, Charter Members of West Norway Lake Lutheran Church.,%20Halvor%20&%20Martine.pdf

Related Images

Tosten E. Bonde Farmhouse
Tosten E. Bonde Farmhouse
Einer Halvorsen Bonde and Berit Olsdatter Egge Bonde
Einer Halvorsen Bonde and Berit Olsdatter Egge Bonde
Tosten E. Bonde and family
Tosten E. Bonde and family
Tosten E. Bonde and family
Tosten E. Bonde and family

Turning Point

In 1875, Tosten E. Bonde builds a two-and-a-half-story, L-shaped farmhouse out of locally quarried limestone from the Nerstrand and Faribault area.



Einer and Berit Bonde emigrate from Vang, Oppland, Norway, with their two sons, Tosten, born in 1843, and Halvor, born in 1845.


On June 9, the Bonde family settles permanently on 160 acres in Section 11 of Wheeling Township in the Minnesota territory.


The Bonde family finishes construction of the barn.


Tosten builds a two-and-a-half-story, L-shaped farmhouse of locally quarried limestone from the Nerstrand and Faribault area.


Tosten and Ingebor grieve the loss of three sons who all died in the same week during a black measles epidemic in late March and early April.


A granary is added to the farmhouse.


A milkhouse is added.


Suffering from stomach cancer, Tosten Bonde passes away at his home on October 14.


On April 6, the Bonde Farmhouse is placed on the National Register of Historic Places.