From our information it appears that Halvor Wetleson and his sister Gunhild Wetleson with some of their children immigrated from the Lunde/Skien area of Telemark, Norway about 1900. When they came to America they all adopted the Kjonaas name because they came from a farm called "Kjonaas" in Norway. Prior to 1900 it was common to change a persons family name when they moved to a different farm. The Wetleson name was some times spelled Vetlesen .
Gunhild, although being single and with several children, along with a "Mike" and "Pat" Kjonaas, all three homesteaded on adjoining farms in the Glenburn/Bottineau/McCanna/Maxbass area of North Dakota, north of Minot and very close the Canada line.
Halvor (Vetlesen) Wetleson Kjonaas, forefather of this family, was born in Norway in 1816 and at that time spelled Kjonaas as "Tjo(/)nnas". Ancestors of the Minnesota Kjonaas family also spelled their farm name that way in the 1700's. I understand that the name Kjonaas means a grassy meadow overlooking a body of water. No doubt a number of farms used thast name. By Manley Kjonaas May, 1998.
Barbara's mother was a Bryan from Devils Lake, No. Dak. and her father was Brown from a farm near Yankton, So. Dak. Her mother's father was a descendant of a brother of William Jennings Bryan. Barbara's mother-in-law, Helen Baker Kjonaas was the daughter of the No. Dak. State Auditor. When he died her mother, Berta ran for that office and won. She held the office for a good many years and was a dear sweet lady with whom Barbara spent time in Minot where Carl and Helen were living in 1946.
He is survived by his wife, Donna, two sons and daughters-in-law, Richard and Christine, Hutchinson, Minn., and Robert B. and Britta Renstrom, Middleton, Wis.; two grandaughters, Stephanie and Angela, Hutchinson; one grandson, Eric, Middleton; three sisters, Margaret Hedlund, Dent, Minn., Claudia Tischman, Belvidere, Ill., and Marilyn Sorenson, Reno, Nev,; and nieces and nephews. (Bismarck Funeral Home)
K jonaas, a 19-year-old sophmore at the University of Duluth, is the daughter of Richard and Christine K jonaas of Hutchinson, Minn., and formerly of Bismarck.
Stephanie's grandmother, Donna Kjonaas of Bismarck, described Stephanie's survival as "miraculous".
"I was watching television last night and on the weather I saw this big storm cell headed for Duluth," Donna Kjonaas said, "I thought, Oh no, Stephanie is going to get it. I was thinking about her."
A sever thunderstorm rolled into Duluth and one lighting bolt smashed through the roof of Stephanie's apartment building. "It hit her pillow, blew that apart, went into the mattress, then the box spring where it spiraled around and around and around her," Donna said.
"It came out of the box spring and went to an electrical outlet. When it hit that it backlashed with fire. It burned the mattress and went back the way it came and set the roof on fire. They found a hole in the pillow where it came in and a hole in the mattress where it went out. It's and absolute miracle she's alive."
Donna said Stephanie's roommates called for help, including an ambulance. Through it all, Stephanie suffered a temporary hearing loss from the tremendous bang of the lightning strike. She also reported tingling feet and hands and Donna said there was a "spiderweb" pattern on her face. "Not a burn, but like a spiderweb."
Donna said her granddaughter lost "most everything" in the resulting fire. "Christine and Richard went down there right away to be with her."
Stephanie and her mother were staying in a Duluth hotel Monday night, ready to find a new place for the teen-ager to life.
PS: Can anyone give us an update on this story?
October 21, 1998 Stephanie Kjonaas reported that she is fine, with no long term damages.