Undated (AP) _ A Minnesota man and a woman originally from North Dakota were among 16 missionaries and their children hacked to death by anti-government rebels in Harare, Zimbabwe.

David Emerson of Osakis, Minn., and Karen Ivesdal, originally from Edmore, N.D., were the only American victims of the massacre Wednesday and Thursday.

Edwin E. Emerson said that he learned of the death of his 34-year-old son from the Kansas City-based sponsor of the mission to which the 16 belonged.

''He was an unusual character,'' the elder Emerson said. ''He has been interested in so many things. We didn't want him to be over there, but there is nothing you can do.''

The elder Emerson said his son attended the University of Minnesota-Duluth for a year before dropping out, living in a teepee in the woods during his college days.

He the life of a hobo for a short time and tried to make a living for two years tapping maple trees for syrup, said his father, a retired doctor. He also worked on a ranch in Montana before joining the mission about three years ago.

Emerson, one of seven children, had told his parents he planned to get married in December to Penelope Sarah Lovett, 28, a Zimbabwean who also worked with the mission. She also was killed in the massacre.

He spent two years with the mission before returning home after the Zimbabwean government refused to extend his visa. He returned this past summer on a visitor's visa.

Emerson's work on the communal farms at the mission included building dams to improve the local water supply, his father said.

''He knew that there was the possibility that ... something could happen because the political situation was unstable,'' Dan Hagen of Osakis, a longtime friend of Emerson's, said Friday. ''So, he was aware of it, but I would not say he was afraid of it. He wanted to go there. He was happy there.''

Ivesdal, 31, was a veterinary technician in Choteau, Mont., before joining the religious community in Africa, where she contined her veterinary work. She attended veterinary school in Minnesota and joined the mission in 1984, said her sister, Linda Adsem.

''She felt there was more to life ... than working for money and getting a wage,'' Mrs. Adsem said. ''She was a very friendly, giving person.''

Mrs. Adsem said her sister wrote regularly and called home about once a month from the mission. ''She liked it,'' Mrs. Adsem said. ''She felt these people needed help. ... She was teaching them how to sew.''

Emerson and Ivesdal had worshipped at the Faith Center, an evangelical church north of Choteau, Mont. A memorial service is planned there for Sunday.

About 20 rebels attacked the 16 in a raid on two farms the missionaries ran as the Pentecostal Community for Reconciliation in southern Zimbabwe. One victim was six weeks old.