Astri My Astri Publishing specializes in bilingual English Norwegian books on Norwegian Heritage, Culture, History, Language and Genealogy. The books have won National Awards including the prestigious G. K. Haukebo Heritage Resource Award for Historical Emphasis. Deb Nelson Gourley, who received both her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from the University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN, solely owns the company. Deb has two sons and they both assist with the bilingual books: Alexander Knud Huntrods, aka Alex Huntrods, (translates from Norwegian to English) and Benjamin Keith Huntrods, aka Ben Huntrods, (transcribes from Dano-Norwegian Gothic script).
Deb was raised on her families’ Norwegian ancestral farm in Fillmore County, Minnesota that was started in 1853, five years before Minnesota became a state. Since childhood she had developed an interest in genealogy and researching her 7/8 Norwegian and 1/8 English ancestry. Also learning more about her g-g-g-grandparents, who where both killed in the 1862 Sioux Indian Uprising, Belmont Massacre, Jackson County, Minnesota.
In 1976, Deb did her Masters Degree Intern at Oslo University, Norway. She was the first person in her family to return to Norway in over 100 years. All contact had been lost, thus she began researching her elusive ancestors: Nels Nelson, Knud Knudson, Lars Larson and Bendick Bendickson. In all, Deb had 27 ancestors (1 g-grandparent, 10 gg-grandparents, 15 ggg-grandparents and 1 gggg-grandparent) who began emigrating as early as 1845 from various areas of Norway including Hallingdal, Numedal, Telemark, Voss, Sognefjord, Valdres and Selbu near Trondheim.
The name “Astri” comes from the name “Astri Herbrandsdatter 1812” that was written on an old immigrant trunk. Deb rescued the trunk from the burn pile at age eight on their Amherst, Minnesota family farm. It was later discovered that the trunk belonged to “Astri Herbrandsdatter Børtnes Syversrud”, Deb’s g-g-g-grandmother, who had emigrated from Norway in 1857. The name “Astri, My Astri” comes from “Astri, Mi Astri”, the name of an old Norwegian folksong. The song was based on the 2,000-year-old Horace’s Ode to Lydia. Deb’s genealogy research lead to the first book she wrote and published, “Astri, My Astri: Norwegian Heritage Stories” . . . "An old trunk, a handwritten note, cemetery and courthouse records–these become the skeletal framework which the author then clothes with flesh, blood, and bunads."