Branch: U. S. Army
Status: Died of disease
Date of Service: WWI
Home Town: Holst Township
Halvor Bakken’s headstone in Emmanuel Lutheran Cemetery
Halvor Bakken was born in Norway on January 25, 1888 to parents Ole H. and Marie Bakken. Halvor was 16 years old when Ole and Marie decided to immigrate to the United States. The family, which also included son Christian, age 18, son Olaf, age 11, and daughter Gudrun, age 4, traveled to Liverpool to board the RMS Saxonia, a huge four-masted liner belonging to the Cunard Line. Ole and Christian listed their occupations as laborer and Marie as servant on the passenger manifest. The Saxonia sailed from Liverpool in early May and arrived in Boston on May 10, 1904.
The Bakken family lived in Blackhammer Township of Houston County, Minnesota for a year before Ole bought a 160-acre farm along the western edge of section 18 of Holst Township, Clearwater County. (That farm remains in the Bakken family more than 100 years later.) Another daughter, Hilda, was born to the Bakken family in 1908. Ole and Marie also adopted a daughter, Emoline, who was born in 1917.
Halvor helped out on the farm and found occasional work as a laborer on the railroad. He registered for the draft on June 5, 1917, reporting that he had no dependents, was single, and was of medium height with blue eyes and light brown hair. He stated he had no grounds to claim exemption from the draft. It is not known what date he was drafted or joined the Army but it is known that in 1918 he was sent to Camp Grant, a U. S. Army facility located on the southern outskirts of Rockford, Illinois. Camp Grant was one of the largest military training facilities during WWI, home of the 86th Infantry Division and the 172nd Infantry Brigade. The Spanish Influenza hit the facility hard in the fall of 1918 while Halvor was training there. Between September 23 and October 1 of that year, more than 1,000 soldiers died of the pandemic. Halvor, age 30, caught the flu and died on October 10. He was one of more than 4,000 young men affected by influenza that year at Camp Grant.
Halvor’s body was sent home for burial. He is buried at Emmanuel Lutheran Cemetery near Clearbrook along with his brothers Christian and Olaf, sister Hilda and mother and father. His headstone is inscribed “Co. G. S. LUD Serv R.E.C.”