Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Jordbærhaugen farm in Lommedalen, Baerum, Akershus, Norway.  Jordbærhaugen means "strawberry hill" in English.  I love it!

 My great-great grandparents and their children lived here and used the surname Jordbærhaugen.

Olaus Kristensen Jordbærhaugen 1846 - 1915
Jonette Kristoffersdatter Jordbærhaugen 1853 -1921
Children: Kristian, Einar, Kristen, Anton, Nils, Paula, Gunda, Peder, Margit, and Jenny.

I would like to know how 12 people fit in this house!  

Kristian is my great-grandfather.  I have also written about Kristen (Christen) and Nils Olausen Jordbærhaugen, who both came to America in 1905 and 1907, respectively. The link is here:


Monday, December 21, 2009

Why Do You Study Genealogy? Pass the Question

Over the summer I did quite a bit of running, fueled by my IPOD and ancestors in my thoughts.  The more I could focus on stories of my past, the farther I ran.  Somehow, knowing the history gave me a reason to keep going. Genealogy and uncovering past lives has given more meaning to my life. 

I truly have come to believe what my byline says:  You don't really know who you are until you know where you've been.  But not everyone feels as I do.  I have relatives who have said, "I don't look at the past, I only look forward."  And, yet, there are millions of people interested in their past.  So, I'm curious... why are you interested?  Is it medical history? Is it curiosity? Is it love for a grandparent and knowing more about her/his history?  Please let me know by posting on your blog.

Here are my reasons:
1) My grandparents lived in Norway and Italy -- far from me.  Although I regularly visited, I always felt there was something missing... something my cousins had that I did not.  I wanted to learn their history and where I really came from.  Through genealogy research, I remember my grandparents and honor their lives. 
2) I love history and the tangents I learn by studying an ancestor.  I have learned about lumber on the Glomma, the soldier's life in Sweden, living in a Salesian college in Sicily.  When someone is born in 1750, I immediately think we were colonies of England at the time.  An ancestor died or was baptized in 1865?  Well, there was the end of the civil war in the U.S.  Historic events give the dates and people I learn about so much more meaning.  And then to unfold a person's life, completely unknown at one point, is like watching a flower blossom from a bud. 
3) I am somewhat of a romantic at heart.  These people lived and loved, and I honor their lives by not forgetting them and bringing them back to life.  Don't we all want to be remembered and feel like our lives had more meaning than our short time on this planet? 
4) There are so many questions I did not get to ask my grandparents, and this is how I know them better and still have conversations with them, though they are now gone.
5) I grew up on Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys.  I still like nothing better than seeking the answers to mysteries.
6) I have made new friends and met new people, some of them relatives I did not know.

Please tell me why you do it!

Me with my Norwegian grandparents.  Do you think the retro-loveseat dates me?

My Italian grandparents together.  I'm not sure, but this was probably taken in Rome in the early 60's.

As Spock likes to say: Live long and prosper. (You have to be a Trekkie to get that, by the way.)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Letter to Santa

Everyone seems to be writing letters to Santa, so here goes:

Dear Santa,   
I haven't always been on my best behavior this year, but I have been pretty good.  Ok... fair? Yes, well, good enough to send you my list of genea-goodies I wish to receive, right?  So Santa Baby, won't you come down my chimney tonight?

1) I'd really like a death record for my ggg-grandfather Samuel Andreasen -- something that tells me when he died and about his accident out at sea.

2) Please give me knowledge of Nils Olausen Jordbaerhaugen's name change in the U.S. and what became of him. Yes, that would be exciting!

3) It would be so nice to learn what happened to Oleane Jakobsdatter's mother, Helena Magnusdatter, my gggg-grandmother.  Did she die? Did she go back to Sweden?  Why does she disappear after 1865?

4) Some pictures of graves in Italy would be lovely, as I don't have any, and I never thought to take pictures while I was there (this was obviously before I became genea-obsessed).

5) Finding lost graves of ancestors would be the cherry on top of all my gifts.  The Norwegian grave-mining site hasn't been too helpful yet because my area of Norway isn't fully included in the database yet.

6) I need one of your elves to help me find more relatives with pictures and information.  The more the merrier. 

7) I need Italian records for all my Sicilian ancestors.  I know this one is hard to do, but I should be able to find something!

Have I asked for too much?  I actually do have more requests, Santa baby, but I will save some for next year.  After all, I don't want to seem greedy.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

Visit to Baerums Verk, Norway, June 1999.  My son and niece take care of my grandfather's grave -- Thorolf Johannes Haugen (1914-1981).

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Tale of Two Great Uncles

The first time I eyed the Baerums Verk Slekstbok on my grandmother's bookshelf, I was hooked.  Norway is wonderfully rich in its genealogical information, and they even do it for you, publishing it in volumes of bygdeboks by parish, or in this case, a slektsbok (genealogy book) for the town.  It was 1994 when I first leafed through one of these books and read the history of one of my grandmother's lines that went back to 1647.  Names, birth and death dates, farms... it was all there.  Note: I have since found some errors in the information, but who cares!  It makes the research so much easier.  I believe I have stated in a previous post how curious I was regarding the names of those who "reise til America" or left for America.  Where did they go? Who are their descendants? Where do they live today?  I hoped to find out one day, and so here I am, years later, having nearly accomplished finding all who left Norway for the land of opportunity  -- those I know about anyway. 

I have posted before on finding my great-great grandmother's brothers, and even her mother (my ggg-grandmother), who left Norway for Salt Lake City in the early 1870's.  They were converted Mormons, which was a big surprise to me, and they are all buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.  I made a connection with a descendant who sent me pictures of their graves and some information, too.  But I also had two others on my family tree who went to America that I needed to find.  They are my grandmother's two uncles, or great uncles to me.  I was stumped for a while, because they had obviously changed their names when they arrived.  One of the brothers went back to visit the family in Norway in the late 50's or early 60's.  I believe my grandmother or her siblings may have kept contact with him at one time, and they probably once had an address.  But that information has surely gone with them to their graves.  Therefore, I have been trying on my own to find the two brothers, Christen Olausen Jordbaerhaugen (b. August 6, 1881) and Nils Olausen Jordbaerhaugen (b. October 31, 1885) (shown in the picture, left). 

The first records I found were from the Digitalarkivet emigration database (found in  After inputting several variations of my great-uncle's names, I found their departure records.  Christen left Norway on April 28, 1905.  He traveled on the Angelo from Kristiania/Oslo to Hull, England and then crossed over to Quebec on the Bavarian.  After more digging, I found a record showing he crossed the border into the U.S. on May 13, 1905 and was heading to Towner, North Dakota.  I believe he later lived in Fertile Valley, Divide, North Dakota, and he shortened Jordbaerhaugen to Haug (and who would blame him).  I found several records of a Christen O. Haug, and in some cases Christ O Haug or Christen Olausen Haug.  The birth dates and year of immigration match this person.  He married Inga from Minnesota and had a few children listed on different census records -- Sylvia, another sister, and Chester.  I was able to trace Chester Haug from North Dakota to Minnesota.  The North Dakota Death Index told me that Christen died December 26, 1938 at the age of 57, in Rolette County, and his son Chester died in Minnesota in 2002 (Social Security Death Index). 

The Angelo brought Christen Olausen Jordbaerhaugen to Hull, England.  It left Kristiania on April 28, 1905.  Below is a pitcture of the Bavarian, which he sailed on from Liverpool, England to Quebec, Canada.  Photos courtesy of .  Check out the site for detailed information on these and all ships Norwegian immigrants sailed toward a new life.
Chester had three children, who are living, so I will not name them here in case they don't wish to be publicized.  I have been trying to find a way to contact them to verify they are descendants.  But I am pretty sure my research is right.  I had posted this search on Ancestry, since I am still a bit wobbly searching records in the U.S.; most of my research has been in Europe.  But over the course of a week, I managed to find all the above information.  Then suddenly, someone posted a response to my query with the same exact research results (except for Christen's death record, which I had not found yet).  He/she seemed like an expert, so I feel like my conclusions are accurate and verified.  Hopefully a descendant will verify further.  Of course, I have this idea that everyone in the world is interested in their genealogy, so I am thinking of how much information I can give Christen's grandchildren about their grandfather's home in Norway.  Their father, Chester, was pretty young when Christen died, so their history in Norway may have been lost to them.  And I know a lot about that history and where their name Haug came from -- the Jordbaerhaugen farm that still exists in Lommedalen, Baerum, Norway (near Oslo).  

Another good reason for me to find a descendant to communicate with is that I have yet to find as much information about the brother, Nils Olausen Jordbaerhaugen.  He is the one who came to visit the family in the 50's or 60's, and I even have pictures of that visit (one is posted above).  I know that he left Norway on March 23, 1907, on the Montebello, and headed to where his brother was living in Towner, ND.  He departed from Liverpool on the Caronia and came through Ellis Island.  He used the surname Jordbaerhaugen, which was spelled Jordbarhauen on the ship manifest.  He also traveled with four friends from Lommedalen.  The manifest mentions him going to ND to his brother.  But after Ellis Island, he disappears.  Yet I know he was alive in the States at least through the early 60's.  So what did he change his name to?  I have tried every variation of his name that I can think of, but no cigar!  So, I hope one of Christen's descendants might know where he lived and his American name.

A picture of the Montebello in Kristiania as passengers board to start their journey to Hull, England.  Nils Olausen Jordbaerhaugen sailed on this ship, leaving March 23, 1907, on his way to meet his brother Christen who now resided in Towner, North Dakota, USA.  He sailed with 4 friends from Lommedalen, Norway.  Below is the picture of the Caronia the 5 friends sailed on from Liverpool, England to Ellis Island, New York.  He arrived on April 5, 1907.  Photos are a courtesy of .
Recap, in case by some miracle someone with information reads my blog: Christen Haug was born Christen (or Kristen) Olausen Jordbaerhaugen on August 6, 1881.  There is a draft registration card from WWI that says 1882, but this is incorrect.  Christen died 12/26/1938 in Rolette County, North Dakota -- correct birth date of August 6, 1881 in this record. He lived in Fertile Valley, Divide, ND through several census records with wife Inga.  Nils was born Nils Olausen Jordbaerhaugen, Oct 31, 1885.  The last record I have of him, as I mentioned earlier, is him going through Ellis Island upon arrival on April 5, 1907.  Their birth, baptism, and confirmation records are recorded in Vestre Baerum parish, Akershus, Norway.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Summer of 1999, Baerums Verk, Norway.  My son met his great-grandmother -- my Bestemor.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

Martin Kristoffersen (1850-1927), born in Burud farm, Lommedalen, Vestre Baerum, Akershus, Norway; died in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.  He was my great-great grandmother's brother who sailed for America on the Nevada from Liverpool to New York in 1871.  My great-great grandmother stayed in Norway.  Back of the headstone is shown below.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award -- Thank you Thomas and Regina

Thomas MacEntee and Regina both awarded me the Kreativ Blogger award!  I am honored.  Thanks so much!!!!

Now as part of the challenge, it seems I must reveal seven things about myself.

1) I grew up in Italy, Spain, Germany, and New Jersey, and I speak 4 languages (one of them still needs some work).
2) I worked as a science researcher for over 20 years.
3) I published a romance novel back in 2001... and wrote 5 more books after... no luck selling those yet.
4) I earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do a few years ago.
5) I'm a sucker for an old man or woman who needs help, and I cry at commercials, too.
6) I love a good bottle of Riesling wine.
7) If I don't travel every so often, I get antsy and depressed.

I also need to pass along the award to seven other bloggers. Here are some new ones, some older ones, and some from across the ocean.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Above: My favorite picture of my Italian grandmother, Giuseppa Napoli (June 11, 1914 - Feb 25, 1998).  The above picture was taken on her wedding day, April 1933.  I think she looks like Greta Garbo.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Samuel Andreasen (1841-1875?) and my Swedish Roots

The day I discovered the Norwegian Digital Archives site was the day I immediately jumped on searching information on my paternal grandfather's line.  I already had some information on my grandmother's side from a bygdebok, and she had also been alive a lot longer for me to learn more about her roots.  Therefore, I opted to start with my Bestefar (grandfather in Norwegian) and quench my curiosity.  My initial goal was to learn the origin of the Haugen name.  I have posted before regarding this discovery  

To start, I needed an idea of where "Haugen" all began, and my father told me how his grandfather Thomas had once used the surname Samuelsen as a child before he used Haugen.  Samuelsen was actually my father's great-grandfather's surname before he, too, took the name Haugen.  Since Norway used the patriarchal naming system, we surmised that his great-grandfather's father's name was Samuel... but Samuel who?  Therefore, the first mystery to solve was the full name of my great-great-great grandfather.  

My father did know a little about Samuel X.  When he was a boy, my father interviewed his great-grandfather Emil for a school report -- a report he still had.  His great-grandfather had recounted about his father Samuel -- a seaman who had died when Emil was 3 or 4 years old.  The story was that his father had sailed to South America on his ship and fell from the bramsail when he was up there to make a repair.  He fell to the deck and was killed instantly.  

My hunt for Samuel X began by searching for my great-great grandfather Emil Samuelsen Haugen (seen in the picture above) in the 1900 census.  I found him as Emil Samuelsen, with his wife, Hanna, and their son Thomas, all living in Moum Soendre farm in Borge, Oestfold, Norway.  The good thing about the census find was that it gave me a birth year for Emil and a location -- Vestre Fredrikstad, 1871.  However, I was unable for a long time to find a birth record for him in the parish archives.  I have since found out this is because his mother Akoline Oleane and father Samuel had joined the Methodist church before Emil was born, and Methodist records are not always available online.  However, it seems that after Samuel's death, Emil and his mother did rejoin the state church (although, at the time, I did not know yet about the Methodist connection). I, in fact, did find a confirmation record for Emil in the Vestre Fredrikstad Lutheran parish archives instead of the elusive birth record.  In this record, his father's name is Samuel Andersen, and his mother is noted as Akoline Oleane Johansdatter.  

This is a good place to go on a tangent and tell you what I have learned regarding names in parish and census records in Norway: there are many errors and inconsistencies.  In the case of Emil's mother, I soon learned that her name was often just Oleane without Akoline.  She was also sometimes Johansdatter, and other times Jakobsdatter.  As it turned out, her father was Johan Jakob Ruth, and she seemed to use either his first or second name as a surname.  Overall, the most common entry for her ended up being Oleane Jakobsdatter.  But by figuring out what seemed like a game of musical chairs with her name, I eventually found two wedding records... and... a surprise... she had married Samuel Andreasen (not Andersen), and they were BOTH from Tanum Parish, Vastra Gotalands, Bohuslän, Sweden.  The record also had their respective ages, so I now knew the probable year of birth for Samuel Andreasen (1841).  From there I found the record stating they were both leaving the state church for the Methodist church.  I also found a note in the state church records stating that Oleane Jakobsdatter and Samuel Andreasen had had a son, Emil, and the correct birth date was mentioned, too.  The Lutheran state church obviously still kept records of those who had left the church.  In the end, there were now several records pointing to the name Samuel Andreasen, and he was originally from Sweden, as was Oleane.  As I understood it, there was a story of Swedish roots circulating in the family, but everyone was surprised both of them were Swedish.  

One of the marriage records stating that Oleane Jacobsdatter marries bachelor seaman Samuel Andreasen from Trosvigbjerget, Glemmen Parish, 12 December, 1869.  The record says they were both born in Tanum Parish, Sweden.  The other marriage record also states their parents' names, but it is hard to read, so I opted not to post that one.

This started me on a quest into Sweden and their records.  As it turned out, these were not so easily available because access was not free.  I had to go through Genline to find the information I needed.  But I did eventually find the information... and a whole new world.  Since I intended to focus on Samuel, I will tell you about him and save the information on Oleane for another post.

Samuel Andreasen was born May 3, 1841 in Tanum, Göteborgs och Bohus län (Bohuslän), Sweden and baptized on May 5, 1841. His birth record said his parents were soldier Andreas Rörberg and wife Johanna Olsdotter (37 years old), living at the soldier croft under Rörvik (a hamlet). Godparents (baptismal witnesses): Olof Pettersson, Elias Andersson, Oliana Pettersdotter, Anna Olausdotter; the first three were from Rörvik, the last one from a place called Orrekläpp. The "family state" record also listed Samuel's parents and siblings.  Soldier Andreas Pettersson.Rörberg, was born February 17, 1804 (probably in Tanum since there is no note to the contrary).  By the way, Rörberg is not a family name but is a soldier name.  I learned that in Sweden any soldier who was assigned to this particular croft had to assume the name "Rörberg".  Before becoming a soldier, he had been Andreas Pettersson, which matched the father's name listed in the Norwegian archives marriage records for Samuel Andreasen and Oleane Jakobsdatter.  In the family state document, there was also Samuel's mother, his father's wife Johanna Olsdotter, born October 1, 1804 (probably in Tanum since there is no note to the contrary).  The children listed were son Samuel, May 3, 1841; Olof Martin, Feb 23, 1844; daughter Petronella, May 7, 1830;  daughter Maja Stina, Jan 17, 1833; daughter Agnetha, Nov 2, 1835; and foster son G. Karl, Nov 2, 1838.  

Another husförhörslängd (household examination) record mentions that Samuel joined/registered in the Sjömanshus in 1859 (18 years old) and received a paper, probably to show when signing onto a ship. Sjömanshus /Sailor's house is a trade union, or likewise for the merchant navy, and Samuel probably joined the Sjömanshus of Strömstad. Once he emigrated to Norway in 1869, he would have changed to a Norwegian one. However, it could be very possible, being so close to Norway, and with the Swedish/Norwegian union at the time, that he was on a Norwegian ship already.  He also had two sisters living in Norway before his official emigration to Norway.  I mention these possibilities because relatives, who are also descendants of Emil Samuelsen Haugen, have a chest that belonged to his father Samuel with the name inscribed as Samuel Andreasen and the date 1861 (when I first started my search for Samuel X, I did not have contact with my relatives and did not know the existence of the chest and, therefore, his name).  The chest emblem uses the Norwegian spelling of his name and not the Swedish spelling, and 1861 is years before his official emigration, so I wondered about this.  The story of the chest is that when Samuel died at sea, the chest was sent home to his wife and son.  It passed on from Emil to his son, Hans.  Hans's daughter in Kongsberg inherited it, and there it still is!  It is amazingly beautiful as the picture shows.

 Samuel Andreasen's chest.  When the lid is lifted there is the emblem shown
below.  The flags represent the union of Norway and Sweden at the time.  Beautiful, isn't it?

Samuel's official emigration to Norway was found in the Emibas CD and said: Samuel Andreasson Sjöman = sailor; jordägare = landowner. (unmarried man) Emigrated March 6, 1869 from Ertseröd, Westra, Nytorp, Tanum, Göteborgs och Bohus län (Bohuslän) to Fredrikstad, Östfold fylke, Norge.  It was only nine months later he married Oleane Jakobsdatter in the Glemmen church in Oestfold.  His son Emil was born on September 10, 1871, and Emil was very young when the news came of his father's death.  I am not sure of the year of Samuel's death, but he had the accident on his ship somewhere between 1874 and 1875.  Emil told my father in the school report interview that he believed he was about 4 years old when his father died. 

Samuel's death record is still one I have yet to find.  One possibility is that it may be recorded in the Methodist church records.  I have written the church in Fredrikstad for Emil's birth record and received no response.  I hope to go and visit the church so I can search for it and any death notice regarding his father, Samuel.  I also plan to visit the archives for the navy or seamen records and see if I can find a notice of his death there.  Once Samuel emigrated to Norway, he would have joined a Norwegian seaman's union in Fredrikstad -- another place to search for records!

So, as you can all see, I was able to learn quite a lot about my ggg-grandfather Samuel Andreasen.  And only one year ago, I had no clue what his name was!

Below is a screenshot of the immediate family for my great-great grandfather Emil Georg Samuelsen Haugen.  My apologies; it is probably hard to see, but I believe you can click on the picture to enlarge it.  The name of his father Samuel is abbreviated for the sake of space. I descend from Emil's son Thomas and his son Thorolf.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Trip to Oslo

This is one of my favorite pictures.  I have stood on this corner in Oslo myself, and it is rather extraordinary for me to see my grandfather and great-grandparents standing there circa 1920.  Behind, to the right, one can see the famous Nasjonalteateret (National Theater).  Nothing has changed, including the iron post behind them, on the left.  What is different is the period of time, the clothes, the car sputtering away in the background.  Front row: Eleonore Haugen, Thorolf Haugen (my grandfather), and Norvald Haugen. Second row: Great-grandfather Thomas Haugen, Mailis Haugen (in his arms), and great-grandmother Joergine (Ludvigsdatter) Haugen.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday

My great-grandfather on my maternal grandfather's side, Carmelo Dibennardo, was from Palagonia, Sicily. He was probably born circa 1870. He was married to Agrippina Strano, my great-grandmother who died young. My grandfather, Vincenzo Dibennardo, was a boy when she died. My great-grandfather remarried and my grandfather was sent to a Salesian boarding school in San Gregorio where his aunt, the Mother Superior Sister Filomena, worked and lived. My mother has a letter written in 1914 from my great-grandfather to my grandfather while he was at school. 

Here is a translation of the letter. Keep in mind that by "mother" he really means step-mother.  One thing I like about this letter is the names given of family members. Unfortunately, it will not be easy to know if they are related to my great-grandfather or my great-grandmother.

Palagonia, 24 October 1914

My Dearest Son,

It was a great pleasure to receive your dear letter, and a few days later a postcard as well . (And now) you want to know if Maria, Giovannina, and your mother and I are doing well ...( yes, we are as you are ).  We couldn't come to visit earlier because we were waiting for your aunt Giovanna who promised you she would come to visit you at boarding school.  You must know that she came to Catania on the 19th, so she only had 4 days in all for her stay, and because of this, she couldn't come to see you.  But that's okay because you're fine, and your aunt Sister Filomena loves you like a real mother.  Your sister Maria will be back after the Indian Summer, we think around the 12th of November.  You also want to know if I will bring you your sister Maria to visit you at school, and I tell you right now that I will not be the only one to do so, but also Aunt Peppina (Josephine), and also Miss Ruffo, who at this moment is in Palagonia for a short vacation.  You also wish to know what I think about our citrus (crop), and what can I say.... I don't know the answer to your question.  Your sister Maria, your mother and I send you a big kiss, and Aunt Peppina and Uncle Gaetano send their kisses. Your mother and I send you our blessings and our good-byes (we will see you soon).

Your most affectionate father,

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

This picture was taken in the 1940's from across the Glomma River. The line points to the house built by my great-great grandfather, Ludvig Hansen. This house was built in the 1890's based on a poem written by my great-gandmother.  Below is a picture of the house today.

Ludvig Hansen 1858 - 1929
Born in Oestfold, Tune Parish, Rekustad
Died in Oestfold, Borge Parish, Hvidsten eller Vesten

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

Haslum Kirke is a cruciform church built circa 1190 in Bærum, Akershus. Many of my ancestors on my grandmother's side were also baptized and married here. The church has a large graveyard, and I wonder if there are any old headstones like there are at Tanum Kirke. Who knows what I may find when I visit!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Roundtrip - Norway to Italy

I have been working really hard at filling out my Norwegian Grandmother's tree. I can go back 12 generations from me, and I still have more generations to add. I am also being very careful about adding sources on my tree. When I first started genealogy research, I would just take a picture of the document, but now I know I should put the source down first and then add the picture. I need to go back to my grandfather's side to do this.

There are a few genealogy walls I have run into lately, but those are what make the hunt fun. I expect to find my answers sometime; I just hope it doesn't take too long! Today I learned something new that might help from a blog I follow, Slekt og Slikt. The site of the article is It mentions a site for members of the Genealogy Society of Norway (please read the comment posted by the author regarding membership), to upload a GEDCOM file of your tree. It merges into the database, and the member will get information in return, such as a list of members working with the same people/farms/areas. I definitely hope to take advantage of this once I have my tree the way I want it, or closer to it anyway, and if I can become a member! Ancestry will do a similar thing by finding you other similar trees on their databases, but sometimes I find they are not stringent enough. I do get tired of all the leaves with possible hints and matches that end up being quite far-fetched. But I do love my Ancestry site, so I can't complain too much!

On to Italy now! I have translated my grandfather's letter from his father, sent to him in 1914. I plan on posting it, and the translation, this week. So look out for it. I also received pictures of each page in my grandfather's diary, written in 1915. More on that to come as well. It is rather exciting to have the information, for my grandfather's diary is about 100 pages long. My mother owns it along with some other things I can't wait to get my hands on soon. As I have mentioned before, it is so hard to get information in Italy. I have to depend on relatives, and at some point a visit in person to find records and tombs (if they still exist).

One exciting find today is that my half-cousin is on Facebook. My grandfather was widowed before he married my grandmother. He had a son with his first wife who is quite a bit older than my mother. They did not have much contact while my mother was growing up. However, occasionally there were visits. Her half-brother also lived in the area of Rome, which was some distance away. Luckily, I had the pleasure of meeting my uncle and one of his sons in 1982 (picture on the left shows my half-uncle and his wife, third and fourth person from the right. Their son is toward the left, to the right my other cousin in the red shirt. I am in the middle in the striped shirt, and everyone else are aunts, uncles, and cousins, as well as my grandmother on the left in the black dress). His son was really nice and fun, I remember. Anyway, I lost contact after that summer. But now that I have had questions about my grandfather's life before my grandmother, it's important that I talk to my cousin. Who knows what they know. They may have some pictures, too. I also want to know something about my grandfather's first wife. At any rate, I had finished writing my cousin a letter when I thought to check Facebook. And there he was! He had just joined, it seems, in the last few days. Coiincidence? Fate? Who knows. But I can't wait for him to answer my email so I can share what I know, and our grandfather's diary, and anything else worth sharing... and see what he has to share.

More to follow soon!

Tombstone Tuesday

 Gustava Jonsen Bye 1876-1953 and Kristian Olausen Jordbaerhaugen 1878-1962. They are my great-grandparents on my grandmother's side, Vestre Baerum, Norway. Their son Trygve was buried with them in 1987 followed by their daughter Astrid in 2003.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Visit to Norway Circa 1969

Today I wanted to post the only pictures I have with my great-grandparents Thomas Alexius Haugen (1889 - 1969) and Joergine Amalie Ludvigsdatter (1889 - 1972). I believe these were taken only a few months before my great-grandfather died. I have posted previously about Thomas with regards to the Haugen name. He and Joergine also appear in the pictures taken when they went to Finland where my grandfather was born. My great-grandmother Joergine also wrote a lovely poem about her childhood in Vesten and the timber life, which I also previously posted. I feel pretty lucky to have some pictures with them, although I wish I remembered them. I believe these were taken in Oestfold, Norway (Fredrikstad area).

Great-grandparents Thomas and Joergine Haugen... and me (quite a bit younger) circa 1969.

Great-grandmother Joergine with me circa 1969.

My great-grandparents and my parents.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

You don't really know where you're going until you know where you've been...

I heard the line in my blog title in a movie tonight, and it really clicked with me. Maybe this is why I am so interested in the past.

I have been working on my grandmother's line lately. I found out that my grandmother's maternal grandparents were first cousins. This was probably not so unusual at the time. I also discovered a gggg-grandfather from Denmark (Agger Sogn) who was a constable. He was born circa 1780, but I need to find his Danish birth record. One good thing is that Danish records are freely available the way Norwegian ones are. Also, Norway was a union with Denmark during this time, so it makes sense. I admit that I still need to look up more about this part of Norwegian history.

Another interesting aspect of genealogy is looking at death records. Many of them tell you what caused a person's death. I find that tuberculosis, cough, pneumonia, etc... caused the most deaths. I am sure the flu was probably a much bigger killer than it is today, and people often died from complications. I did run into one strange cause of death. One of my ggg-grandmothers was married once before to a man who died by "naturlige kopper." They had a baby daughter who also died a few months later by "naturlige kopper." I assumed that this was copper poisoning, but my father says it is small pox.  

Some other things I have been working on is planning the reunion in Norway. I have a Web site going, but I wanted to complete my grandmother's tree a bit better before going live. Then I hope to contact my grandmother's sibling's relatives through the Web site, and I also hope to contact all other relatives, too. I am still hoping to have some pictures found, especially the pictures that belonged to my grandmother's sister, Astrid. As I said in my last post, they ended up somewhere after she died. But I have found a way to get still-shots from video -- I have a video I took in the 90's of my grandmother's and her sister's pictures. So I tried to get some still-shots from it, which I am posting below. They did come out a bit warped and blurry, but I am posting a few here to give you an idea how they come out. I hope to find the originals so I can have them scanned instead and be of much better quality.

Gunnar, Kjell, and Trygve in front. Gyda, my grandmother, and her sister Astrid behind the boys. Rex the dog, too. This picture was taken circa 1926.

The oldest boy here is John, and then the other boys are Olav, Oivind, and Gunnar (the youngest). Raghnild is the oldest girl, my grandmother Gyda is on the left, and Astrid is the youngest girl in the picture. Gunnar was born in 1917, so judging by his age in the picture, this was taken circa 1920. My grandmother was around 7 years old in this picture. Trygve was probably just born, and Kjell was yet to come.

Three sisters, Gyda, Raghnild, and Astrid

Gyda, Raghnild, and Astrid

Astrid and Gyda

Monday, October 5, 2009

Jonette Kristoffersdatter Jordbaerhaugen and Olaus Kristensen Jordbaerhaugen

Ellen Hansdatter's (Christophersen) grave in Salt Lake City, Utah (1822 - 1899)

Early in September, I posted some exciting news about finding my great-great grandmother's brother, Martin Christophersen, who had left for America circa 1871. My gg-grandmother, Jonette Kristoffersdatter, stayed in Norway, and her line continued there until my father came to the U.S. in the 50's. Strangely, though, I discovered Jonette's mother, my ggg-grandmother Ellen Hansdatter, had left for America with her two sons, Hans and Martin (pictured below). They were converted Mormons and moved to Salt Lake City where they died and are buried today -- Ellen Hansdatter's grave is pictured with the surname Christophersen.  She is buried next to her sons, Martin and Hans Christophersen. So I am a first-generation American with a ggg-grandmother who lived and died in Utah. 

As far as I know, my grandmother did not know what happened to her great-grandmother and grand-uncles. However, it seems that Jonette was not raised by her mother, so perhaps she did not talk much about her own mother to my grandmother. Jonette's father died when she was about 9 years old, so this could be why she was raised by her mother's sister, Anne Hansdatter, in Skollerud (Vestre Baerum, Akershus). Jonette later married Olaus Kristensen, and circa 1883, they moved to Jordbaerhaugen farm in Vestre Baerum. As far as I know, they are the first ancestors living at Jordbaerhaugen. They had 10 children, and 7 children were born at Jordbaerhaugen farm.

Martin Christophersen 1850 - 1927

I have been searching for the pictures of Jonette and Olaus for a while now. My grandmother's sister Astrid had their pictures on her wall, but I don't know where the pictures ended up after she died. My uncle is helping me find out where all my aunt Astrid's pictures may be. However, I was smart several years ago and video-taped all my grandmother's and my Aunt Astrid's pictures. The problem is that the videotape isn't very good, and when I try and take a still-shot off the video, the picture is a bit blurry and warped. Nonetheless, I was quite lucky to get pretty good still-shots of both Jonette and Olaus.

Jonette Kristoffersdatter Jordbaerhaugen 1853-1921

Olaus Kristensen Jorbaerhaugen 1846 - 1915

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

One of my most awesome pictures!!

From left to right: Emil Georg Samuelsen Haugen (my gg-grandfather); Thomas Alexius Haugen (g-grandfather); Thorolf Johannes Haugen (grandfather); and my father on his confirmation day, December 2, 1951.

This picture was taken in Baerums Verk (Lommedalen), Norway, in front of my grandparents' home.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday -- Eleonore Ludvike Haugen

My grandfather's older sister, my Tante Nore, was born in Borge, Oestfold, Norway on March 19, 1908. She was a sweet woman who always came across happy and extremely genuine. She had a beautiful home, and she loved to travel. I still have a ring she brought me from Rome when I was about 10 years old. And I remember when she came to visit us while we were in Spain one summer. She returned to Spain several times after that visit because she loved it there. As I understand it, she was also a woman of great faith. Tante Nore never married. She died May 15, 1993 in Baerums Verk, Norway.

Note to self: I must ask my father more information about his Tante (aunt) Nore.

Nore's grave is in Bryn Kirke, Baerums Verk

Eleonore Haugen, 3 years old

At the house in Dyrmyrgata, Hellebekk
while she stayed with my gg-grandparents
Emil and Hanna Haugen

In the 1980's

Memory Monday -- The Boot and the Football

One summer when I was about 6 or 7, we went to Sicily to visit my grandparents. I don't remember too many things about my grandfather, Nonno Enzo, mostly because he was a quiet man. My grandmother was the center of the family in those days, and my grandfather liked to retreat to his study where he wrote poems and novels, and worked on his hobby of astrology. This search for quiet to work on writing, or other creative things and hobbies, is something he and I have in common. But if I think hard about it, I do have a few personal memories of him -- one of them quite important to me.

I remember how one day that summer I wandered into his study as his typewriter clicked away. His office smelled like books and papers and ink, and I loved it. Nonno stopped tapping the keys to greet me and asked me questions, but my eyes were soon fixed on the wall where there was a map. He must have seen how I stared at it, and he pointed to it and explained how the peninsula was Italy, the country I was visiting at the moment. He explained about the boot and the football, and he pointed to Catania on the eastern coast of Sicily. "This is where we are," he said. I remember feeling awed by knowing what Italy looked like, and by understanding my place on the map at that very moment. I have never forgotten it. Years later, as a teenager, I also had a map of Italy on the wall of my room. Italy was then, and still is, another home to me.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday

When my bestemor died, I didn't get too many things, but I loved all I was given because they reminded me of her. I have the serving dishes she used on a daily basis, coffee cups, two of her mother's Bibles (one was my great-grandmother Gustava Jonsen's confirmation Bible, and the other was the Bible given when she married my great-grandfather Kristian Olausen Jordbaerhaugen). I also received a porcelain container filled with her jewelry.

Now, if you knew my grandmother, then you know she was not one to spend money on frivolous things -- jewelry included, I think. So her jewelry at first glance does not seem like much if I take away the sentimental value. Nonetheless, yesterday I decided I wanted to get the tarnish off the jewelry; they are mostly silver pieces. My eyes locked onto a locket made of painted enamel. Inside, the Roman numerals XXVI are etched into both sides. I can only guess what the numbers stand for, and the only plausible explanation is the year 1926. So, I looked up "floral enamel jewelry," and as it turns out, the Art Deco or Art Nouveou jewelry was quite popular at the turn of the 20th century through to the 1920's. So the year 1926 theory may be accurate. That would put my grandmother at 13 years old. So, of course, now I wonder where she got the piece at that age. Was it a birthday or Christmas gift? Did it belong to her mother? It is very frustrating that I will probably never know the answer to these questions. 

After studying the locket as much as possible, I moved on to a brooch with the same enamel and floral style design. The brooch is about 2 inches in diameter, and I guessed it was also made circa 1920; this seems accurate according to what I have read on the internet, and in the Scandinavian Jewelry books I have read on Amazon using the "look inside" feature. When I turned the brooch around, I noticed a stamp. It said G.G. 925 s. Well, as it turns out Norway would always mark the silver 925 to show it was the highest quality silver. But the initials G.G. had me curious. So I did some more googling and found a few similar pieces to the one I had -- nature designs, the same size and shape brooch, and the stamp, all made in Norway by Gustav Gaudernack (1865 - 1914). He was a goldsmith and designer born in Bohemia who went to Norway in 1891 where he lived in Kristiania until his death. According to this site, Gustav Gaudernack was one of Norway's first designers who earned an international reputation, though he is not too well known in the United States. I read on a different site that he specialized in enamel and nature designs, like animals and flowers. He went to work for the jeweler David Andersen, and he was instrumental in their designs, also for their glass works. The David Andersen company still exists today. However, Gaudernack also had his own store, starting around 1910, and when he died, his widow and son continued to make enamel jewelry. It also seems that his grandson, Christian Gaudernack, continues to make jewelry today in the Baerum area. 
But, getting back to the brooch, I read on the site for the link above, that from about 1900, Gaudernack concentrated on the Art Nouveau movement. It was with the flowing style of the flowers and insects that he had his international breakthrough, and it is the one he is remembered for today.

So now this floral piece has more meaning and more questions from me. According to other sites I found selling similar pieces, I am pretty sure the brooch is from the 1920's at the latest. I believe it was either made by Gustav Gaudernack himself in his shop before 1914, or it was made in his name by his wife or son during the 20's. My grandmother would still have been a girl, so I wonder if she received the piece then or later in life, maybe from her mother. The locket doesn't have the stamp, but it looks very similar in style, so it may have been made by the son after his death. This would fit with the 1926 etching theory, and perhaps it is the reason there is no hallmark stamp. Either way, both pieces are unique and very pretty! I truly feel like I discovered treasure yesterday.