96-year old medal returned to family of World War hero

Louise Oleson Journal Managing Editor
Nick Pyle from Casselton, ND was grateful to receive the lost medal that had been awarded to his great, great uncle from the citizens of Nelson County.

Local woman turned detective recently to find owner of 96-year old medal.

Janis Jaeger, who works in the x-ray department here in Devils Lake at Altru Clinic, Lake Region grew up in Kloten, North Dakota. Kloten can be found about half-way between Devils Lake and Grand Forks, approximately 40 miles south in Nelson County, between McVille and Aneta on the BNSF Railroad Line.

She says she found the old medal while going through items that had been stored in a box in a cedar chest in her home. “I think it came from one of two old houses that my dad bought in the late 1960s,” Jaeger said.

One of the houses he’d purchased hadn’t been cleaned out very well when the previous occupants left, so there were numerous items left behind. The medal was one of those items.

Curious to see if she could find anything out about the man whose name was on the medal, Jaeger went to a website called Ancestry.com and discovered that Dreng Halvor Roisland was born June 25, 1893 in Kloten, ND and died Oct. 10, 1918 in France killed in action.

At the time of his death, he had served two months and two days in country.

He’s buried in the Meuse Argonne Cemetery.

On the website there was a photo of him and a photo of the headstone that marks his grave in France.

Jaeger learned that Roisland was born of Norwegian-American parents, Halvor Osmund Roisland and Julia Hoftuft Drenson, who farmed in the Kloten area. He was inducted into the army on May 24, 1918, sent to Camp Lewis in Washington, served in the 7th Company, Second Battalion, 166th Depot Brigade to June 17, 1918.

From there he went to Company H, 157th Infantry to Sept. 15, 1918, then Company B, 109th Infantry until his death overseas.

He fought in the offensive at Meuse - Argonne and defense of Clermont, Lorraine.

As Jaeger continued her detective work she found a posting  on Find A Grave Memorial for PVT Dreng H. Roisland. It read “Dreng, thank you for your service. You were born 25 June 1893. You are my Grandmother’s uncle.” and it was signed N. Pyle posted August 20, 2010.

It was a message that Jaeger could follow-up on and perhaps  find a way to return the medal she’d found to a family member of its rightful owner.

And find him, she did. The N. Pyle from the posting was Nick Pyle who works for Unity Seed Company in Casselton, ND.

Pyle said he’d recently gotten interested in tracing his family tree and had become a member on Ancestry.com, which is how Jaeger found him.

He also said that neither he nor anyone in his family knew the medal had existed, or that it had gotten lost, so he was delighted that Jaeger had contacted him.

That was a couple of years ago. He said they’d tried to get together a couple of times but North Dakota weather had gotten in the way, so it wasn’t until approximately a month or two ago that Jaeger telephoned him and said she would be passing through on her way to the Twin Cities and wanted to bring the medal to where it belonged, to  Dreng’s family

“We have it in my home, now,” Pyle said.

“When my grandmother returns from wintering in Florida this coming summer I plan to show it to her, and she’s going to be thrilled,” he added.

Dreng H. Roisland was Pyle’s grandmother’s mother’s brother.

He added that they would treasure the medal and keep it in the family, always, hoping it would never get lost again.