Runestone Reader Dies
Sturgeon Bay, Wis. -- Hjalmar R. Holand, 90, of Ephraim, the translator of the
Kensington runestone, died of old age complications Thursday at the Door County
Memorial hospital, Sturgeon Bay. The Kensington stone was discovered in 1898 by
a Minnesota farmer. In 1907, Holand translated the runes, symbols used by the
Norsemen, found on the stone. He maintained that the inscription proved that
Viking adventurers from Greenland discovered America long before Columbus' time
and ventured as far west as Minnesota.
This interpertation has been challenged by other historians who believe the stone
Curiosity about the discovery of America, and noncomformity in standing his ground,
brought Holand this disputed fame. Chief encyclopedias mention neither his name nor
After the Kensington stone was discovered, Holand took it over. He later said the
stone was a challenge to him and that he had spent 50 years and many thousands of
dollars in travel, studying and writing to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Holand was a roving bookseller, map wholesaler and student at the University of
Wisconsin. He roamed Door county on a bicycle when its roads were only trails.
He was born near Oslo, Norway, Oct. 20, 1872, but went to Chicago with an older
sister in 1884. He received a bachelor of arts degree in 1898 and a master of arts
degree in 1899 from the University of Wisconsin.
Funeral arrangements are pending at the Casperson funerl home in Sister Bay.