Rowing home to Norway

For most Norwegian emigrants America was a good place to live.

Not so for Victoria Jensen who bought a rowing boat for 16 dollars and set out to row back to Norway.

This story is told in the US newspaper Nordisk Tidende March 13. 1919. 


On its way down from St George Staten Island (NY) Saturday, March 8th at 6 PM, it was observed from the pilot vessel “New York” a woman standing in a small rowing boat in the Ambrose Channel.

“New York” went alongside the small boat, stopped and asked if she wanted to be taken aboard. The woman only shook her head. The commanding pilot ordered the dinghy to be launched and three deck hands went over to take the woman aboard. When they approached her she grabbed one of her oars and tried to hit them with it. This resulted in the deck hands having to bring her by force onto the pilot vessel. 

They brought both the woman and her boat onto the vessel “New York”. At first, she did not want to talk, but after a while, she told that her name was Victoria Jensen and that she had bought the boat for 16 dollars and intended to row home to Norway because she hated this country.

She wore a black dress and was probably about 45 years old, weighing about 110 pounds.

She was left in the care of the police in St George, Staten Island. Where they sent her is not known as we left port the same evening.

I am sending this letter to you in case someone is searching for her. She was not willing to give her address.


Simon Haraldsen

Chief Engineer, Pilot boat “New York”

I have made a search on, but have not been able to find this woman in US sources. She may have been able to return to Norway in a safer way.

One thought on “Rowing home to Norway

  • May 31, 2019 at 2:16 am

    Thank you so much for sharing! Reminds me of stories of my grandmother, Theoline Moe, who left Norway for Minnesota in 1905 to marry my grandfather, Andrew Ronning. Andrew emigrated from Norway to the US when he was 16 years old with my great-grandparents, and at 38 years of age was still a bachelor so apparently an “arrangement” was made with a “family they knew from the old country” with a single daughter. (So the story goes. I only recently learned from my research that Theoline and Andrew were cousins, but that’s another story…) Anyway, Theoline was lonely and miserable that first year in Minnesota and came very close to going back home. Fortunately for me she stayed! She never returned to Norway, but lived to the ripe old age of 94.


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