James Lankford dropped off a DVD at our house a week or so ago about two brothers who wrote to each other for many years. One brother emigrated to the United States in the late 1800s and his brother stayed in Norway.

James Lankford dropped off a DVD at our house a week or so ago about two brothers who wrote to each other for many years. One brother emigrated to the United States in the late 1800s and his brother stayed in Norway.

Their letters, all written in Norwegian, were a good study of their lives, spent an ocean apart.

The one who came to America became a farmer in South Dakota and the other was a farmer and fisherman in “the old country.”

The brothers had many things in common. They both farmed, they both raised big families, they both lost their wives and they both spoke Norwegian all their lives.

The American family built up a large and prosperous farm over the years, but his children did not stay on the land. The second American generation went into business or teaching, leaving the farm for renters.

In one letter, the brother in Norway expressed surprised when his brother told how much milk and butter they were able to produce from their cattle herd. He wondered what they did with all the extra milk.

The brother who came to America was very successful and, when his brother in Norway was about to lose his farm, money arrived and saved the farm.

Both men were very  religious and often spoke of God in their letters. The Norwegian wrote about his family and farm and about fishing for herring which he did to supplement his income.

The American brother wrote his last letter at age 85 and occasionally his sons wrote for him. He died at age 86. The Norwegian brother lived to be age 99 and was visited by some of his American nephews before he died.

I was surprised when the American brother wrote that, in his old age, he could still speak only Norwegian. He said there were only a few people left that he could talk with, which he said made him lonely. Perhaps that is a lesson that new immigrants should take note of today. Learn English as fast as you can.

The video was very interesting and very beautiful, with a mix of old pictures and modern scenes of South Dakota and Norway.

There were many lessons to learn from this video. The biggest lesson I think was that success can still be achieved if you are willing to work hard, be honest and generous, and be a good citizen.

Thanks James Lankford for lending us the video.

Kay Hively writes a weekly column for the Daily News.