The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Norse trading

From The Borrowed Sister by Erling Nicolai Rolfsrud (Augsburg Publishing House, 1939).

Over 13 years, Sister Elisabeth Fedde — "the borrowed sister" from Norway — started two institutions that bore the deaconess name: one in Brooklyn and the other in Minneapolis.

Fedde's tenacity took center stage when she had the dubious task of buying a horse to pull the new ambulance in Brooklyn. While negotiating for the $53 horse, she reminded the animal's owner that his transportation business had been known to contribute to local accidents that necessitated ambulance service. The owner agreed, yes, she was right about that and offered to make a $55 contribution to the hospital. He then lowered the horse's price to $50 and Fedde walked away from her first horse deal with a horse and a $5 profit.

Each year, Fedde is remembered on Feb. 25, the date of her death at age 70 in 1921. But Dec. 25 is more significant: It was her birthday as well as the day she received her first invitation to come to America and the day she returned to the fjords and mountains of Norway. "And though she could not know it then, a few more years and she would have the home she had secretly cherished in her heart since early girlhood ... a home she shared through many years of joy and peace with the gentle lad ... for Ole Slettebo had loved her always," ends her biography.


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