Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sicily: Genealogy Trip 2013 (Post 1)

After many years, I finally returned to Catania to visit relatives and pursue my interest in my Sicilian ancestry.  Did I mean to blog while I was there the way I did during my trip to Norway in 2010?  Yes.  Did I do it? No.  Let's just say life can be a little crazy in Sicily.  Crazy and busy-- in a good way... well, most of the time.  And when I wasn't busy, there was no Internet available, or if there was, I was too tired to even turn on my computer. I'm also a bit of a perfectionist, and if I can't blog regularly and not skip important events, I'd rather not blog at all.  So, here I am reverse-blogging, and this isn't going to be much better than if I had skip-blogged my way through my Sicilian trip.  Sigh. In fact, I'm at a bit of a loss as to where to begin.

Etna as seen from the plane before landing...
So let's start with the biggest thing to stare you in the face when flying into Fontanarossa Airport of Catania-- Mt. Etna. Mungibeddu, as it has been called in Sicilian dialect, stands tall at 3,329 meters/~11,000 ft on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean island.  It constantly exhales vapor or belches ash and spews lava at the summit, reminding everyone it can blow any time it feels like it. It is the most active volcano in Europe and has the longest documented history (2,700 years) of activity of any volcano. Over the centuries, it has destroyed Catania and other towns several times, but it is also known as a relatively kind volcano, usually having given residents ample time to escape the danger.

Today, Etna is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its importance to science, history, culture, and education. Therefore, I really wanted to honor the mountain with a personal visit to the highest point available to tourists. The volcano has been a constant fixture for centuries of ancestors who not only depended on it and the fruits of its fertile soil but at times probably had to survive it as well.  I am the sum of all of them and, therefore, a daughter of Etna.   

Rifugio Sapienza
To reach the top, we had to drive to the Rifugio Sapienza (~1,900 meters) and purchase tickets to ride the cable car to about 2,500 meters where there are buses that go to the authorized crater area at 2,920 meters. One can choose to walk the last leg, but it would take about 3.5 hours to reach the crater area-- all uphill, mind you. The cable car ride was beautiful; the flora and fauna growing from heaps of old lava are unique, desolate patches of loveliness.  Once the top is reached, as my son stated, "it's like being on another planet."  The barren blackness dips into craters still venting steam as the lava from the last eruption continues to cool off.  And the view from the top is one in a million.

Bottom line: This is a must-do attraction if traveling to Sicily.  5-star experience.

Funivia/cable cars of Etna will take you to 2,500 meters

Examples of flora and fauna seen from the cable car

One of 5 main crater vents seen at 2,920 meters

Standing with my son "on another planet."

Stay tuned for the next post on Sicily 2013.

Interesting links:

Friday, May 10, 2013

100 Years Old-- Happy Birthday, Bestemor

This week my Norwegian grandmother would have turned 100 years old.  Her birthday was May 7, 1913.  I still think about her all the time.
My grandmother, Gyda Kristiansen, around 1928.  I like this period picture of her, and I also own the necklace she is wearing.

My uncle put flowers on her grave for her 100th birthday.

Here is a list of memories I wrote down when she died:

This morning, during the funeral, I thought about those things I found most memorable about Bestemor.

My favorite childhood memory takes place in Norway for Christmas; I believe I was five or six. Bestemor was in the kitchen, making coffee in the same pink kettle, cutting bread ... preparing breakfast. I look out the window, a blanket of snow on the ground, the trees bare. Bestemor tells me to look down, below the window, on the ground. I do. There are two rabbits looking up at us. Bestemor digs in her drawer for day old bread gone hard. She opens the window and throws it out to the bunnies. I am so delighted to see them eat it on the snow. Other mornings it was a squirrel visiting, eating bread.

Bestemor made "traditional" mittens, sweaters, and hats for me my whole life. The last sweater she knit me was around 1995. Whenever I wear one of her sweaters people don't believe a person and not a machine made it. She was that good. She once told me she couldn't remember the first time she knit a sweater. She was five years old or younger. And to her knitting wasn't to be "traditional". She did it because that was who she was, a Norwegian woman in the truest sense. And a strong woman I was proud to know.

I stayed with her the summer of 1988, after graduating from college. I wanted so much to knit like she did. I can still see her face when she asked me in Norwegian, "You mean you never learned to knit? Your father didn't teach you?" It seemed to be a big faux pax that needed remedy immediately, along with my not knowing how to ski. Actually, I had no idea Dad knew how to knit until she told me she used to make him knit for her, and bake "kringlers," too. That seemed a funny image to me.
So that summer I knit my first sweater ever. No fancy patterns, but it did look like a sweater! It was Norwegian red, blue, and white.

Did I say how I got to be there that summer? As a child, Bestemor and Bestefar put money into a savings account for me. The way she explained it was that her other grandchildren were nearby and she'd buy them things occasionally. I wasn't, and so she put money in a bank account so I could one day take the Norwegian course of study at Blindern, the University of Oslo. Even after Bestefar died she continued to put money there, and that summer I was off to study Norwegian. I had three months to know her better than I ever had before.

I learned she loved her garden. I had always admired it because it was so beautiful. It always flowered in a multitude of colors in the summer. She also had strawberries, currants, and all kinds of Norwegian berries I don't know how to name ... And then there was the house she and Bestefar built together.

I can still smell her house. Sometimes I'll be hit with a scent here in the U.S. that
reminds me of it. It all comes back to me-- the small house, the bathroom that
doubles as a shower (and the same towels she's had as long as I can remember), the
sculptures she and Bestefar made years ago (the deer, the old
woman), the clock Bestefar made, the many pictures she had of her family. Oh, I forgot
her sewing machine, her radio, the "old-fashioned" furnace she used. The things that
represented Bestemor to me.

I was always amazed that I could turn around and she would have baked a
kringler, a rhubarb pie, a strawberry cake, a streudel. Just when did she do it? The
birds would have me up in the summer at 4:00 AM, not to mention the sun was already
out. But she wasn't baking even then! During the day she'd work on the garden, mow
the lawn (I couldn't even start a lawn mower). One day, I remember, I came back from
the university to find a new patio with a bench she'd built herself. She'd bought the
lumber and used Bestefar's carpentry shop below the house to cut the wood. She was
always busy. Bestemor was one of those people who "did" things. No fuss, no muss,
as we say here. Get the job done when it needs doing. Mow the lawn, build a patio,
bake a rhubarb pie all in the same day ... that and her famous boiled coffee (make sure
the grounds settle to the bottom of the kettle before you pour it). Oh, I forgot, knit a
sweater, sew a dress, too. And she'd still have time to catch the news or read the

Actually, back to the sewing-- when I was little it was always fun because she'd
make dresses for my doll, too. She was good at that kind of thing. If you were a boy,
she'd take you down to the carpentry shop below the house and make you a wood toy.
I remember my cousin Tord could play for hours with a homemade wooden car.
What am I forgetting? All my life I loved sitting on the swinging terrace furniture.
She had that as long as I can remember. We'd sit out there and have ice cream and
talk on a nice summer day. I can still hear the river running behind the foliage in the
back yard.

Bestemor didn't like fruit. Well, she did, but it was so "dyrt" or expensive. I'd buy
some and her eyes almost always popped out. And she didn't like it that I had "cool"
holes in my jeans once either. Patched them up with her sewing machine, she did. It
made her happy, so why not.

She got to meet her great-grandson. For that I am happy. I have pictures of her
with Kent. I have video of her explaining her pictures in the albums she had. Did you
know the album of her and Bestefar together before they were married was all shot with
a string attached to the camera? They were alone and the cameras back then didn't
have an automatic picture-taking shutter. Bestefar hooked up a string to the shutter and
posed with Bestemor throughout that photo album, all by pulling on a string. Where was
I? Yes, I also have the sweaters she knit, letters she wrote. She was good at writing.
Better than I was.

I tried to get Bestemor's recipes from her, but that was impossible. As she finally explained to me, "I just take a handful of this and a pinch of that. There are no recipes, just the way I've done it since I can remember." And that has stuck with me. I also cook this way. I never follow a recipe, just a handful of that and a pinch of that, and it comes out just fine! Maybe I can pass that on.

These are all just snatches of memories. I'm glad I was able to know what I did about her. But I'll always regret I didn't have the grasp of Norwegian to really talk freely with her. She was always mad about that, too. But at least I knew enough to get by and know her. At least I got to see her often, considering how far apart we were. Especially as an adult I was lucky to see her every couple of years, so I can really remember her. For that I am happy and thankful.

Goodbye my Bestemor; jeg elske deg.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Tip: Familysearch Learning Center

Familysearch has an incredible number of online courses available for free.  Perhaps you are a newbie genealogist who wants to get started; or you have just found an ancestor from France (or another country), and you want to learn how to research French records; or perhaps a course on a particular type of record --say probate records-- is of interest.  Check out the Learning Center Genealogy Courses at Familysearch.  Have fun learning and searching!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pasquale Ursino -- Pedigree and Family Members

Pasquale Ursino from Catania, Sicily
During the Thanksgiving break, I was able to research my Sicilian family history and fill in more dates, and add more people to my great-grandfather's family group.

So far I have found that my great-grandfather had nine brothers and sisters.  He was also married twice and had at least two children with his first wife and at least five with his second wife.  He ended his years with my great-grandmother who he was unable to marry because she was not allowed to obtain a divorce from her husband.  My great-grandparents had four children together, and one can see they gave their children the surname belonging to my great-grandmother's husband in order to make them "legitimate" (see picture of immediate family below).  This was a secret my grandmother guarded very carefully for many years -- Sicilian society was very strict in her day.  My great-grandmother had also had four children (one died young) with her husband before living with my great-grandfather.

Overall, my great-grandfather had several children that died young.  In fact, I was quite sad to see he lost three children with his second wife and that they had died 1-3 years after birth.  He had also lost one child with his first wife.  Also sad was the loss of his first wife -- she was only 27 years old.  I was not able to learn the cause of her death.

I also learned that before marrying his first wife, my great-grandfather was in the navy or merchant marine.  His father had been a career sailor as had his grandfather, so this must have seemed a logical career for him as well. However, my great-grandfather was no longer a sailor when he married his first wife and is listed in many records as "industrioso," "magazziniere," and other similar descriptions. 

Finally, I was also able to add a generation to my tree by finding two sets of his great-grandparents (fourth great-grandparents to me), and I found several death dates to add to the profiles of his family members as well.

My great-grandfather's pedigree
Pasquale's immediate family
Street Addresses for Pasquale Ursino
Strada Cutelli (1863)
Strada della Statua (Largo Statua, 36) (1865-1877)
Via Sorrentino (1881)
Via Cutelli (1883)
Via DiGiuliano (1889)
Via DiStefano, 70 (1891)
Via DiStefano, 37 (1892)
Via Misterbianco, 43 (1897)
Via Fischetti, 57 (1899)
Via Ventimiglia, 157 (1902)
Via Opificio, 25 (1907)
Via Celeste, 110 (1909)
Via Consolazione, 81 (1914)

Some of the addresses above still exist today, but some streets seem to have been renamed.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Jumping the Pond -- Lesson 3

Before searching records overseas, you will probably have to first research records in the U.S. A good place to begin is with census and naturalization records. Such records are offered for free on or with a subscription on You can also search Familysearch for information on where to locate naturalization records for your particular state or region of the U.S.  You can learn about regional National Archives or State Archives that house the records you need, or you might be able to order a microfilm from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Start with census records before researching naturalization records. You can locate your immigrant ancestor in the 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 censuses, which recorded information regarding year of immigration and citizenship status.

Tip: Learn what the abbreviations on the census stand for. For example, AL= alien, PA= papers were filed/pending, and NA= naturalized citizenship. Also, start with the latest census and work your way back.  Information might vary from census to census.

Once you have a good idea on when your ancestor was naturalized, use the year or range of years to search for naturalization papers.

The naturalization papers will more than likely tell you the exact town/location your ancestor emigrated from to the U.S. If your ancestor's naturalization record does not divulge the information you are looking for, then check the records of other family members.

Once you have an idea of the year of immigration, check the passenger lists or ships' manifests for more information. Don't focus only on the immigration year, though. Some people I have researched returned to the home country for a visit, so you might find more than one passenger record. The more recent records will have more information about where your ancestor was headed. They will usually have a town of birth listed and the name of a relative in the country of origin. Don't forget to see if your ancestor traveled with a relative because there may be information associated with the relative that provides more information. By the way, passenger records are being indexed by Familysearch, but you can also find records with a subscription to or for free at

That's it for now! Stay tuned for more ways to search the town and country of origin so you can jump the pond.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Veteran's Day

This is in honor of all the men and women who have served their countries in times of peace and war.  Here are some who are related to me:

Brother, Kevin. He also served in the first Gulf War.

Several of my grandmother's brothers and cousins were known as "the boys in the woods" in Norway and can be found among the men above.  They resisted the German occupation (WWII) in Norway mostly by planning and carrying out sabotage missions.

My grandfather having a lazy moment during his military service in Norway.  This picture was probably taken around 1922.

My grandmother's brother Giuseppe Napoli from Catania, Sicily, was lost at sea when his ship sank on 18 March 1918 during WWI.    

My fourth great-grandfather, Andreas Petterson Rörberg, from Tanum, Vastra Gotalands, Bohuslän, Sweden served in the Swedish military for 31 years.

And there are more...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Jumping the Pond -- Lesson 2

In most cases, finding the exact location your ancestor came from is essential to finding records overseas.  If you don't know the town your great-grandparents came from, you will have to look in North American records first.  But what if you have done it all and you still don't know the exact town your ancestor lived in before emigrating to the U.S.?

Finding the exact town your ancestors came from may require expanding your research a bit.  First of all, many people emigrated together and moved to the same towns/neighborhoods in the U.S.  So keep in mind that the answer may not come from a record but from learning the history of great-grandma's neighborhood.  Sometimes, even the streets were named after familiar places in the country of origin.  Visit a local museum or contact a local historical society.  You should also visit or research the town's cemetery because there may be headstones with information regarding home-country origins, and there might be a trend.  Overall, chances are that if the community was a clustered settlement of people from the same town in Italy or Ireland, that you will find a useful trail to follow. 

Tip: if you don't find the town of origin in your ancestor's records, or the history of the U.S. community he moved into, try the neighbors' records!

So let's assume you have exhausted your ancestors' records and you still have no clue of the exact location they once called home. How can you research the neighbors' history?

1) U.S. census records -- find out who lived next door to great-grandpa.
2) Naturalization records might have a friend who vouched for your ancestor when he sought citizenship.
3) Probate records -- who witnessed the will? Who made the estate inventory?
4) Cemeteries -- who was buried next to your ancestor?
5) Church records -- who were the godparents or marriage witnesses?
6) City directories -- look for common surnames or occupational trades.

Pick a few friends and neighbors of your ancestor and research their naturalization records!  If you are lucky, there will be a town in common and the trail will be hot once more.

Stay tuned for the next post on how to specifically research U.S. records to help find the town of origin for your ancestor.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Genealogy Lessons on Jumping the Pond-- Lesson 1

Recently, I went to a family history conference at my local family history center.  One of the seminars I attended was on researching Irish ancestors -- I am not Irish by the way.  I am not a beginner, so it was pretty basic information for me. The seminar focused on researching in the U.S. first, which was nothing new for me; however, it was new to many in the audience who had some very basic questions, and I realized how much a beginner really needs to learn.  Therefore, inspired by the presenter, Randolyn, at the Apex Family History Center in NC, I decided to promote the information she gave and add in my tidbits by starting this new series.  When we get to actually "jumping the pond," then it will mostly be solely based on my experiences.

Lesson #1

Location, location, location.  Jumping the pond and researching records in your country of origin will most likely not be possible unless you figure out where exactly your ancestor lived.  You will probably need to know the exact town, county, parish, etc. People who try to find an ancestor at the country level will hit a brick wall, and usually the first lesson is that what may seem like a unique name and surname in the U.S. is often very common in the country of origin.  So how do we begin our search?

Start with what you know!

1) Fill out a pedigree chart.  Begin with yourself and fill out your parents', your grandparents', and great-grandparents' information.  Include information on siblings, if you know it.

Tip: Many beginners make the mistake of focusing only on direct family lines, but in fact, records for siblings of grandparents or great-grandparents may have the tidbit of information you cannot find in the records belonging to your direct ancestor.  

2)  Interview your family members, starting with the oldest members first.  If I had a dime for every time I wished I had interviewed my grandparents or their siblings before they died, I'd be rich by now.
  • Videotape or record them, if you can.  
  • Ask about marriages, deaths, births, traditions, immigration/emigration stories.  
  • If you google "family history interview questions" you will find several links to help identify the best questions to ask.
  • Go through family albums and record your family members' memories.  
  • If friends or neighbors are available, ask them questions as well.

So get started, and stay tuned for Lesson #2.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Searching for Graves at Bryn Kirkegård

A few months ago, I searched the Norwegian Gravminner database to see if Bryn Kirkegård (Baerum, Akershus) cemetery records had finally been uploaded.  To my delight, I found that the records were available and searchable.  Immediately, I looked for the name "Jordbærhaugen" to see if there were any graves I was not aware still existed.  "Jordbærhaugen" is a rare name in the area, belonging to one farm, and as of the mid-1800's my ancestors have lived there.  I did in fact find my great-great grandparents, Jonette and Olaus, listed in the database with the precise location of their graves (numbers 4 and 5 in section 004).  Surprisingly, the database did not say the graves were "slettet" or deleted.  In Norway, once graves become too old and are not supported financially, the plots are recycled.  In this case, Olaus died in 1915 and Jonette died in 1922, so the removal of the headstones was to be expected.  But one can always hope.  Furthermore, my father had no recollection of his mother visiting her grandparents' graves, and he believed they could no longer be in existence.

Olaus and Jonette Jorbaerhaugen are located next to the church
Luckily, my friend and previous president of the Oslo/Akershus Chapter of the DIS-Norge/Norwegian Genealogy Society, Laila Christiansen, offered to investigate for me.  She contacted the church office and was helped by a very nice lady.  Apparently, the church records needed some updating, and there were several names listed in the church database for the same plots.  She searched for the people who were currently leasing the grave plots, but they were on vacation.  She then went to the site to look for herself and saw that my great-great grandparents' headstones were no longer there.  The headstones belonged to a family that is not related to me.

In the end, all is not lost!  Olaus and Jonette may no longer have a marker at the cemetery, but I am pretty sure their remains were never moved.  Next time I visit Bryn Kirke, I can at least visit the area of their resting place.

Thank you, Laila, and thank you Bryn Kirke for your help.  I really appreciate it.

Laila also blogged about the experience, so please check out her piece since it has more facts and general information about the burial database.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Norwegian Probate Materials

When doing research into your Norwegian family tree, don't forget probate-related materials!  You can uncover a wealth of information such as dates of death, surviving spouse, surviving children and location, property, heir(s), and liabilities.  To find digitized probate materials (skannet skiftemateriale), click here.  Select the county and judicial district; for example, choose Akershus County and Bærum Lensmannskontor.  For "Protocol" select the one you wish -- for example, death registrations or Dødsfallsprotokoll.  A list of record books and appropriate dates will appear.  Click on a link and begin your search.  

Here is an example of a death registration for my gg-grandfather, Olaus Kristensen Jordbærhaugen. The record is the second one of the list (or the only one if looking at the screenshot below rather than following the provided link). The record shows what property he had: 8 cows, two horses, and farm equipment.  Son, Anton Jordbærhaugen, did become the new lessee of the Jordbærhaugen farm.  All his siblings are listed, including their whereabouts.  For example, my two great-uncles who left for America are also listed, one in North Dakota and the other in Canada.  

A screenshot of the record is below.

Happy hunting!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Italian Genealogy Records Online

Oh Familysearch, how I love you.  They have been adding images of records online from around the world on an almost-daily basis, and the collection is amazing.  There are millions of Italian records alone to research from the comfort of your couch.  Records included were originally on microfilm, and they have also added records that were never before available on microfilm.  By the way, thank you Familysearch for those records I desperately needed from Mineo and Palagonia.  I was so happy to see they existed!  And by the way, these records are ALL FREE!

One development has arisen, however, regarding the online records.  Due to agreements with original record custodians, some images on Familysearch are not available to view from the comfort of your home.  You either have to be a member of the LDS Church or you must view the records at your local LDS Family History Center.  The Italian records that fall into this category are the ones that have "Stato Civile" in the record title. Luckily, there aren't too many in this category, but it is annoying when you want access, and you have to wait.  But it turns out, one can still view the records online rather than have to run over to the Family History Center.

I recently discovered that the images are available for online viewing at the Italian archive site, Antenati, which has a partnership of some kind with Familysearch, and I assume they are the original "Stato Civile" record custodians.  Click on "Sfoglia i Registri" and put in the data you want.  At the moment, the "Stato Civile" records available are from Cuneo, L'Aquila, Mantova, Messina, and Napoli.  Hit "Cerca" after you have entered your specifications.  A list of records will appear and click on "Apri" to open the group.  You will then be able to open images.  You WILL NOT be able to download these, however, but you can search and then go to your Family History Center to download from Familysearch.

For all other Italian records, enjoy the nice online collection on Familysearch from your home, and also download as you wish -- FOR FREE.  I keep saying that, but it is so nice considering my other genealogy expenses.  Happy hunting.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Ellen Hansdatter Christopherson (1822 - 1899) - Find A Grave Memorial

Ellen Hansdatter Christopherson (1822 - 1899) - Find A Grave Memorial

Click above to see the new memorial I created on for my ggg-grandmother -- Ellen Hansdatter, also known as Ellen Christopherson in the U.S.A.  I am a first generation American, but I discovered a few years ago that I had a ggg-grandmother who had converted to Mormonism and come to the U.S. (as well as three of her children). Her other children remained in Norway -- one of them was my gg-grandmother.  My line in Norway stayed Lutheran, and I never knew I had any relationship to Mormons in my family, so this was very interesting.  This story is an example of why genealogy is so fascinating!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Nonno and the Istituto Salesiano di San Gregorio

Vincenzo Dibennardo, ca. 1918. 

In past blog posts, I have shared translations of my grandfather’s diary, written during the school year of 1915-1916 – his fourth year of high school.  He was a boarding student at the Istituto Salesiano di San Gregorio, hoping to become a novice and enter the priesthood.  My nonno was born in 1900 and lost his mother two days before his ninth birthday.  In those days, it was unusual for a man to raise children on his own, and my grandfather did not have any living grandparents.  My great-grandfather must have felt that the best solution was to send my grandfather to the Salesian boarding school, where he could still visit occasionally, and where his son with receive a first-class education.  Furthermore, my grandfather had an aunt who was the Mother Superior of the Salesian order of nuns and could look out for him.  I am not sure if she was related to my grandfather on his mother’s side or his father’s side.  Her name was Sister Filomena (Suor Filomena), but nuns often take on new names, so it is likely her birth name was another. 

I have determined from my grandfather’s diary that he spent four years at San Francesco di Sales in Catania but then moved to the Salesian Institute of San Gregorio in 1915 due to San Francesco di Sales becoming a hospital for those wounded in WWI.  In fact, my grandfather often visits his former institute in the diary and describes some of the wounded. 

Some genealogical research goals that I have had are to visit both Salesian institutes to see if they have any records left from when he was a student at either school, and also to research his aunt, Sister Filomena.  Unfortunately, I could not go to Sicily this summer, but my parents are visiting relatives there, right now, and they have promised to do some of the legwork for me.  I have worked hard with my mother to transcribe Nonno’s diary and publish it in book form with scans of the original pages of his diary so I could donate the books to each institute (and share with my relatives).  My parents will have to donate the book for me, and maybe they will receive information in exchange.  My grandfather was only 15 when he wrote the diary, and he is so descriptive of life as a student in the Salesian schools, and of the teachers and priests, that I feel it would be of historical interest to the schools.  I am also working on a translation of the diary, and I hope to create a new edition of the book that will include the Italian transcription as well as the English version.

Entrance to the Salesian school in San Gregorio
The other day, my parents visited the Istituto Salesiano di San Gregorio.  I received some pictures from them, which were wonderful.  They spoke to the director of the institute who also showed them the school – where my grandfather would have eaten his meals; where he would have visited with his father the few times he appeared at the school in the diary; the church (attached to the school) where he would have attended Mass, as he often describes; etc.  The director was given one of the published books I created, and when he saw the picture inside-- of my grandfather dressed as a novice-- he recognized exactly where the picture was taken.  In fact, it was taken at the school, in the garden.  My parents and relatives were taken to the spot and took pictures there as well.  That was the highlight of their visit for me!  The bad news was that there are no more old records.  Apparently, they disposed of them one or two years ago.  This is extremely upsetting, and I don’t know why they couldn’t have been preserved somehow, but the director said they are in bad financial shape and hoping to be able to stay open, so perhaps it was a financial decision. I just hope the other school hasn’t destroyed its records.  I guess we’ll find out when my parents visit in the next few days.

My relatives in the same spot that my grandfather took his picture in 1918 (see above).

The area where my grandfather's picture was taken is in the school's garden (above).
This attached chapel is where my grandfather attended the Masses he describes in his diary.

Where my grandfather would have eaten his meals.
The school hallway
Another view of the garden and the old well below

Friday, May 25, 2012

Find your Norwegian Great-Grandmother on your Smartphone

The Norwegian Archives have made an App available for download onto your iPhone or Android.  The App allows you to search for your ancestors in records before 1910.  I tried it and found several ancestors, mostly in the 1910 census.  They are continuing to improve the records available to search with the App.  It is free.  Make sure you try different spellings of the names you search since records vary quite a bit.  Click here.