I love this picture. There is just something about three strong Scandinavian women and their horses that appeals to me. Even more so because they are my ancestresses. Johanne Hansen Louison, born in Norway in 1859, and her two daughters, Julia and Laura. Thank you to the person who captioned this moment because it makes it so much easier to set the scene. Johanne lived in Winger,MN (northwestern near North Dakota part) and in 1912 she would have been 53. She farmed the land with her husband Martin, who also immigrated from Norway. Julia and Laura would have been 16 and 17, respectively, in this picture. I wonder about the situation that made the sisters “spinsters” for many years – Julia married and had her first child at age 42, and Laura married at 33 and remained childless. This seems unusual for the time.
I also love that the captionist included the names of the horses – Nellie, Grant and Prince – it seems to show an almost family-like acknowledgement. The clothing is fascinating to me as well – they are riding astride and so must be wearing split skirts or (heaven forbid) trousers. But considering their Scandinavian strength and stubbornness (I can say this because we are related) I would vote for the trousers. It was not unusual in Norway for women of that time to wear trousers while skiing.
I wish the picture was in higher resolution so I could make out the structure behind them, and the tool or device in the lower left. The building looks to have a stone foundation and brickwork – houses and barns in northern MN were made of wood, so perhaps they are in town for an official event or celebration. It’s fun to speculate. Do you see any details that give more clues?