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 http://www.snl.no/.nbl_biografi/Gustav_Gaudernack/utdypning, 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.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Gg-grandparents Emil and Hanna Haugen, with son Hans and daughter Elvira. Photo taken while they lived in Finland circa 1916.

Great-grandparents Thomas and Joergine Haugen. This picture was also taken in Finland circa 1916.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bestefar's Finnish Beginnings

On May 18, 1914 my great-great grandparents, and great-grandparents left Norway for Bjorneborg, Finland (Pori, as it is called today). I don't know if their intention was to stay, but I know they sought new opportunities; however, I believe WWI made life difficult there, too. They stayed for 3 years before returning once again to Norway. When they returned, my grandfather came back with them. He was born in Pori, Finland. I have decided to search for his birth record; however, the Finnish records are only publically available through the year 1900. It seems I will have to write the parish to request the information on the birth record. I would like to know what it says the parents were doing there for work, and maybe there is even an address. Pori seems like a very nice city I will have to visit one day. Anyway, I will let you know if I hear back from the parish.

Above: The building my great-grandparents, Thomas Alexius Haugen and Joergine Ludvigsdatter Haugen, lived in while in Finland.
My bestefar Thorolf was born during this time.

Above: The house in Finland where my great-great grandparents
Emil Samuelsen and Hanna Andreasdatter (Haugen) lived in
with Thomas's younger siblings, Hans and Elvira.

Re-entry into Norway in 1917; my great-great grandparents'
document. Here is proof that my great-great grandfather used
the name Haugen already. It is signed Emil Georg Samuelsen Haugen.
Back side of the document is below.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bestemor's Kringler... Well, Sort Of...

When I would visit my bestemor (grandmother), cakes, pastries, waffles -- you name it -- would miraculously appear. I really don't know how or when she would create her specialties, but I can tell you one thing -- they were good! She used to grow rhubarb and strawberries in her backyard and, voila, strawberry rhubarb pie on the coffee table. But getting a recipe from her was near impossible. "A pinch of this and a fistful of that," was what she would tell me. I had a hard time explaining I needed measurements. Bestemor had been throwing stuff into a bowl for so long, she didn't need the ol' faithful measuring cup. So here is my attempt at her Kringler recipe. I'm sure it isn't right, but it's as close as I'll get.

4-1/2 cups flour
2 packages active dry yeast
1 teaspoon cardammon
1-1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp salt
1 egg
2 cups raisins

Combine 2-1/2 cups flour, yeast, and cardammon. Heat and stir the milk, sugar, butter, and salt until warm (about 120 degrees F). Add the warm mixture to the dry ingredients; add one egg and beat with a mixer for 1 minute at low speed. Beat 3 more minutes at high speed. Add raisins to the mix. Add as much of the rest of the flour, 2 to 2-1/2 cups, and mix with a spoon until your arm is tired. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead in any remaining flour until stiff and elastic. Shape the dough into a ball and put into a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double. Punch the dough and divide it in two. Cover each half and let rest 15 minutes. Shape the dough into two round or oval loaves, or into the shape of a horseshoe. Place the dough onto a greased baking sheet. Let rise for about an hour until nearly double. Stir one egg yolk and 2 tablespoons water and brush over the loaves. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes. Cool on a rack and sprinkle some powdered sugar, or create a sugary drizzle and stick crushed almonds on top.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Eight is Enough Plus One or Two

I have been fleshing out the genealogical history on my grandmother's side, in Vestre Baerum, Akershus, Norway. My grandmother's father, Kristian Olausen Jordbaerhaugen, was one of 10 siblings. He in turn had 9 children, my grandmother (Gyda) being one of them. Thinking of the sizes of the homes in Norway, especially in those days, these are quite astounding numbers. But my father told me, even the dresser drawers could turn into beds for the night.

As I researched my great-great grandfather Olaus Kristensen Jordbaerhaugen and his brood of ten, I happened to find a tree on "ancestry dot com" belonging to a descendant of his brother Gulbrand Kristensen. This was very exciting, and I was able to fill in this line of my tree easily. It is so nice when someone else does the work for you. I sent an e-mail to the owner of the tree, who lives in Oslo, but I have not heard back from her yet.

After filling in at least the birth dates for all the Olausen/Jordbaerhaugen children, including my great-grandfather Kristian, I decided to do the same with his nine children. Finding and recording the Kristiansen birth records is a bit different. All the people I have found, no matter how far back, are very much real to me. It is a bit like reading a good book -- the characters become true people you feel you have come to know and understand. It is much more so when it is your ancestor who is the character in the story you are researching. There is no moment where you escape the picture in your mind only to stare at words on the page, realizing none of it is true. It is all true, and to me they come back to life when I discover them because from that moment on they live in my mind. Because I knew my grandmother and some of her siblings, seeing their birth records is even more meaningful. I loved my grandmother, and I miss her. It is hard to believe she was once the baby born in Baerums Verk now buried there. Seeing her brothers and sisters line up with her, birth dates filled in, makes me wish I had congregated them all in a room a long time ago. I could have asked so many questions. Now it is all more difficult, but it would still be exciting to track down all the Kristiansen descendants. Now that would sure be a huge group filled with as many as 4 generations -- maybe 5. The problem is planning such an event from across the ocean... and finding everyone. But I would love to meet them all and share pictures and treasures. Maybe they'd be interested in all I have learned about their ancestors.

Here are the Kristiansen children and the dates I have found so far: John (1904); Raghnild (1905); Olav (1906); Oivind (1909); Gyda (1913 - 2002); Astrid (1915 -2003); Gunnar (1917); Trygve (1919 - 1987); and Kjell (1922). They are all gone, but their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren continue the journey.

Here are some pictures I have of 6 of the siblings. I hope to find and/or receive many more.

Four siblings get together: Kjell, Astrid, Gyda, and Olav. May they rest in peace.

Trygve Kristiansen

Oivind Kristiansen

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

I decided to follow up on my recent post regarding my Italian grandfather's signature of Di Bennardo vs. Dibennardo. The first signature shows how he seems to have spelled his name at the age of 15. The second signature is how he spelled his name as an adult.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

Following up on my last post, here is a picture of the grave belonging to Emil and Hanna Haugen, my gg-grandparents. Emil was born Emil Georg Samuelsen, and Hanna was born Hanna Marie Andreasdatter. Hanna's father, Andreas Andersen, was the first to lease the land "Haugen" in Moum farm (Borge, Oestfold) and build a house. His daughter Hanna married Emil, and Emil leased another parcel on "Haugen" (see my last post). This place name, meaning small hill or mound, became their surname... which continues today with their descendants! Emil was a seaman at first, like his father, and later a timber worker and sometimes brick-maker. Overall, he is best remembered for working the wood, which is mentioned on his headstone. Also written is that Emil and Hanna are loved and missed. They are both buried in Kongsberg, Norway.

More on Emil and Hanna in a future post.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Haugens of the World: Bred on Small Hills for Greatness

If you are a Haugen, then Garrison Keillor's words apply: all the women are strong; all the men are good looking; and all the children are above average. Of course, I kid you! I always love Keillor's phrase, though, when he tells stories about the people in Lake Wobegon. And one thing they have in common with me is having Norwegian origin.

For those who may not know, Haugen is a place name. In Norway they had a patriarchal system for surnames: take the first name of your father and add "sen" or "datter" to the end, depending on whether you are male or female. Under this surname method, I would be Astrid Rogersdatter since my father's name is Roger. Around the turn of the 20th century, people stopped the system (for the most part). So you can bet that if your surname is Andersen, and you are of Norwegian ancestry, you have an ancestor whose name was Anders, and the patriarchal naming system stopped there. The other type of surname Norwegians used was the place name -- like Haugen. In many cases the patriarchal name and place name were combined; for example, Andreas Andersen Haugen -- my great-great-great grandfather. Over time, in my case, the place name remained the surname for future generations. Haugen means small hill or mound, so if you are a Haugen, then you have an ancestor who lived on a hill somewhere in Norway.

When I started this genealogy journey, I was determined to find my hill. I have always wondered where it was. One thing I knew was that I would have to look through the ancestors on my grandfather's side. This would take me to Oestfold, Norway -- the Fredrikstad area. One of the first records I found was the birth/baptism record for my great-grandfather Thomas Alexius Haugen. The most interesting clue on the record was the column for "place of residence." Written in that column was "Moum," a farm in Borge, Oestfold, Fredrikstad area. Underneath the word "Moum" was written "Haugen" in very small letters. This was my first clue that Haugen -- the hill -- might be located on Moum farm. Another hint I found to tell me where exactly in Moum the hill was located, was the 1900 census. The family is listed as living in Moum Soendre (South Moum), so this narrowed down the area of the farm considerably. Interestingly, getting back to the name thing, Thomas's parents were using Samuelsen as a surname for that census, and also for son Thomas. Samuelsen is the patriarchal name for Thomas's father, Emil Georg Samuelsen. In fact, on most records for Emil Georg, he is a Samuelsen, but I did find a few later records with the name Emil Georg Samuelsen Haugen. At some point, his son Thomas used Haugen exclusively, rather than Samuelsen or even Emilsen (as I found in one record). As I alluded to earlier, the turn of the 20th century was a time of transition in surnames in Norway. But the name Haugen was pretty much set by the time my grandfather was born.

So where is Haugen? It is definitely in Moum Soendre farm, Borge, Oestfold. I met a man named Odd Marthinsen over the internet, and he happened to also be a friend of my father's cousin, Ellinor. He was able to dig up the deed for Haugen on the Norwegian National Archives internet site. I have attached a screen shot of this exciting find. So here is a simplified story of how my Haugen name was born:

My great-great-great grandfather Andreas Andersen leased a parcel of land from John Johansen Moum on April 1, 1867. The name of the land was Haugen, the hill -- Moum Soendre No. 19. Andreas Andersen was the father of Hanna Andreasdatter. She later married Emil Georg Samuelsen who also leased another parcel on the same hill in 1895. Two adjoining houses were built on the hill. We were told the houses, along with the barn, were torn down after WWII. However, we were able to obtain an aerial photo taken in 1945. The photo is of Tangen Teglverk -- a brick factory constructed after the Haugen houses were built. It surely must have ruined their pretty view of the river, and this may have contributed to them eventually abandoning the homes and moving on to greater things and places.  Above is a picture of my small hill with the houses; I cropped out the brick factory for better viewing.

My great-great-great grandfather, Andreas Andersen, never had the name Haugen on any of his early records, but his death record has the name. His daughter Hanna married Emil, and they eventually used the name Haugen, too, as did their son Thomas. The rest is history. I hope to pinpoint the location of Haugen today when I visit the area next summer.

More on Haugen on a future post.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Vincenzo Dibennardo (Nonno Enzo)

My grandfather, Vincenzo Dibennardo (1900 – 1982), was born in Palagonia, Catania, Sicily. His father was Carmelo Dibennardo, and his mother was Agrippina Strano. It is unclear if the surname was once spelled “Di Bennardo” rather than “Dibennardo.” My mother has a diary he wrote when he was about 15 years old, where he spelled his name as two words; but if this is true, then he or the local “commune” changed the spelling. I hope to go back to Sicily soon and dig into this mystery. The problem is that finding old records in Italy can be difficult, either because they were badly recorded, lost in fires, or because the bureaucracy gets in the way. This is why I started my geneaology research with the Norwegian side of my family – it is much easier and can be done online. But getting back to the name, I did look up “Dibennardo” as a surname today in Palagonia, and I could not find anyone using this spelling; however, there are several people who spell their name “Di Bennardo.” I’m betting some of them are distant relatives. Palagonia is not that big!

My grandfather’s mother died when he was young. In those days, it was not common for a father to raise a child without a wife. His father did eventually remarry, but nonetheless, my grandfather was sent to a Salesian boarding school in San Gregorio, Catania, Sicily. His aunt was the Mother Superior of the school. I know from a letter my great-grandfather wrote him in 1914, while my grandfather was at the Salesian school, that her name was Madre Superiore Filomena. I do not know if she was his father’s sister or his mother’s sister. Filomena is also likely the name she assumed when she took her vows to become a nun. So, her identity and story are mysteries yet to be uncovered.

The Salesians were founded by St. John Bosco, a priest who cared for orphaned and poor children. In fact, St. John Bosco was my grandfather’s favorite saint for the rest of his life. I believe the time he lived at the school, Istituto Salesiano Sacro Cuore di San Gregorio, had a profound effect on him. The school, as all Salesian schools, provided an excellent education similar to attending seminary school, and prepared young boys to become priests. My grandfather was nearly ordained, but changed his mind. The picture I have posted shows him around 1920, before he was to take his vows. I am not sure, but by his dress, I assume he was a deacon for some time before leaving the vocation of the priesthood. However, his relationship with God never ended. I remember very clearly how my grandfather always prayed or made the sign of the cross before eating. I remember that he would go to Mass every Sunday without fail, even by himself. He was a quiet man who had learned Greek and Latin thanks to his Salesian education. He wrote novels and poems and played the piano beautifully. But these facts lead to more stories to tell on a future blog post!

My Nonno Enzo is buried in the Cemetery of Catania, Sicily, Italy.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Left to right: Italian grandmother Pina Napoli, Norwegian grandmother Gyda Kristiansen, my mother, me, Norwegian grandfather Thorolf Haugen, Italian grandfather Enzo Dibennardo. This picture was taken around 1968 in Genoa, Italy.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Vesten and Hvidsten Barrier

I thought I would post a piece that was written in Norwegian and translated by my father. The original piece is published on Odd Marthinsen's Web site -- http://www.oddmarthinsen.no/. Odd lives in Oestfold, Norway (Borge) and was instrumental in helping me find the real estate records showing the original place that gave birth to my surname, Haugen. I will share that exciting story on another day. In the mean time, here is the story written by Odd regarding the Vesten barrier. As you may recall from the poem I published the other day, written by my great-grandmother Joergine Amalie Ludvigsdatter, I have several ancestors who lived in Vesten and worked the timber on the Glomma.

Translated and used with permission by Odd Marthinsen.

The settlement which today is called Vesten and Hoellberje mainly dates from the era of timber floating and related activities. The place is called Vesten today but has gone by many names over the years --Weesteen, Hvidsten, Hvitsten. Hoellberje is named for the little farm of Hoelen. Its location was what today is Hoelsloekka or Hoelloekka, a meadow down toward the river, which was popular for ski jumping in times past when there was more snow during the winter. There was also a small settlement prior to the period of timber floating. Already before the year 1400 there were three or four farms by the name of Weesteen. But it was only by the middle of the 1800’s, with the timber floating, that Vesten became a lively place.

Already at the beginning of the 1700’s it was attempted to have the timber bypass the Sarpfossen by a duct, but with rather poor results. The reason was the big avalanche in 1702 when all of Borregaard slid into the river and killed 14 people. Many houses and equipment were lost. On the east side of the river, this catastrophe caused a flood which destroyed several mills, timber, and other goods belonging to citizens of Fredrikstad. There were several large mills on the Hafslund side.

New attempts were made to build a duct to bypass Sarpfossen (waterfall) in 1726 and 1742, but the work was postponed both times. During the winter of 1847 - 1848 the brothers Pelly & Co. built a duct at Borregaard for floating timber to its own mill, as well as floating for a fee to timber dealer P. Gellertsen in Fredrikstad. The income became substantial for Borregaard, who earned more than 2,000 specidaler in 1852 from floating timber destined for Fredrikstad. But it was only when the beam trade got its own representatives in Fredrikstad in 1840 that floating through Sarpfossen took on real importance. And this floating increased along with the growing timber trade in the Fredrikstad area. But, as already mentioned, the waterfall was a real problem, as the timber got bunched up ad led to much breakage. All kinds of solutions were discussed. The timber duct built by Pelly & Co. on the Borregaard side in 1847, and which operated for just a few years, was destroyed by a big flood. During the following years there was discussion of both a canal and of a railroad.

The timber destined for the mills in Fredrikstad was sometimes held above the Sarpfossen, but could not be sorted there. The beam traders in Fredrikstad, therefore, had to find ways to stop the timber below the waterfall to be sorted. This was for some time done in the so-called salvage barriers along the river between Sarpsborg and Fredrikstad. This work did not get properly organized until solutions were forced by the shipping in the river, which had big problems with the freely floating timber.

In 1854 a timber barrier was built at Vesten. It was initially only a collection barrier where the timber was separated and made into rafts. After a few years, a sorting function was added, using the same principle as that of the Nes barrier. Soon it became necessary to expand the capacity, due to the rapid growth of the timber trade in the Fredrikstad region. Now, people also started building houses at Hoelberje, because work was available. The wages were about 300 - 400 kroner pr. year.

In 1884 a completely new and technically superior sorting device was put into operation. The timber duct was built of wood and made independent of the speed of the river current, which could vary considerably at Vesten. It was in 1885 that the floating director, Richard C. Furuholmen, was given the assignment to rebuild the Vesten barrier, where he was subsequently employed. One of the new features was a machine he had invented which would layer the logs 9 high and tie them together with chains. These log piles were then floated to the respective mills along the river toward Fredrikstad. This machine could handle the entire quantity of timber being floated past Vesten.

The machine was in use from 1885 to 1908, when the floating stopped. By that time, the timber tunnel at Eidet was completed and timber destined for Fredrikstad was led through Lake Minge and the Isnesfjord, to Eidet. The type of stacking machine used at Hvidsten barrier was not used anywhere else in Norway, though possibly in Sweden and Finland. The Furuholmen stacking machine was awarded a prize at an exhibition in Stockholm in 1897.

These were the conditions that characterized Vesten and Hoelberje. People found work and they thrived. In the year 1900, about 40 of those living in Vesten worked at the timber barrier. A similar number were employed in Tune. Some were stone workers in the Tofteberg Stoneworks, and a few were sailors or servants at the nearby Amundsen farms. The latter were actually better off than the timber workers. They earned as much and had room and board in addition.

As one wanders around Vesten today one can still envision the past, with the timber barrier, the "Tripp boat" pier, the stacking machine, and busy ship traffic on the river. There was also ferry service across the river, up until 1967.

Genealogy Blog Finder

I sent a request to be accepted into the directory of blogs at the Genealogy Blog Finder site. Let's see if this blog is interesting enough to make their list. The site is great for finding information about what is going on in the world of genealogy -- conferences, blogs, information, etc...


Check it out!

I hope to keep writing the next few days, but I have to fly to Houston for work. So if I am quiet, you will know why.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Continuing on my last post, I had sent three e-mail requests for information to each person who had my ancestor on his tree. I heard back from two. The first told me that I was related to his uncle by marriage. This person has an incredible tree, by the way -- over 22,000 people! His uncle is deceased, but there is a son who can be contacted. He said he would see if his uncle's son has any information or pictures of the ancestors we have in common.

Shortly after, I heard from another tree owner I had contacted. His wife is the great-great granddaughter of my great-great uncle Martin Christophersen. And, of course, this also means we share the same ggg-grandmother and ggg-grandfather. He confirmed for me that my ggg-granmother Ellen and her two sons, Martin and Hans, converted to the Mormon Church. In 1871, they left for "Zion" (Utah). They lived there until they died. He told me all their graves still exist in the Salt Lake City Cemetery! How cool is that? He and his wife also have pictures of Martin and his wife and their headstone. There is also information on Martin that was published in the LDS Biographical Encyclopedia. The writer of this four-book series, Andrew Jenson, met my great-great uncle in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1914, and there is a picture of the two of them together. So I guess even though Martin moved to Utah, he still traveled back to Europe occasionally. Anyway, I was promised a copy of the picture of Martin and Andrew, and also of Martin and his wife, and as I mentioned earlier, the headstone of their grave, too.

I added a picture of the immediate family for Martin Christophersen. His sister, Jonette, is my gg-grandmother who remained in Norway and was not Mormon. I chose to keep the Norwegian spelling for all except Martin and Hans who used the more common American spelling ("Ch" rather than "K" and "ff" rather than "ph"),

I am very excited!! More to come when I know more.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A First Generation American with Ancestors in Utah?

One of the things I have learned since starting my research is that being stumped is always fun. I don't know if it is all the Nancy Drew mysteries I read as a child, or the scientist in me, but I love the research, and the hunt for clues, and finally solving the mystery. When it pays off, there is nothing more exciting. I have had many days like this since I started this journey into the past. I wish I had started this blog at the beginning so I could have shared the experience. Of course, I will touch upon my many discoveries over time. But for now, I will write about the current mystery I ran into on Friday and mostly solved by today!

I decided to give Oestfold, Norway a break for a while and move over to Lommedalen, Baerum (Akershus), which means I am researching my grandmother Gyda Kristiansen's line. I remember one summer in '94 or '96 when I went to visit my grandmother that she had a Slektbok, or a Baerums Verk family history book. Baerums Verk is an old iron mining town, and her ancestors go back to the beginning of its birth. The Slektbok is the easy way to do your tree if they include your family, but it still isn't complete, and there are errors. However, at the time it was fascinating to see names going back to the 1600's, and a good portion of my line! I mostly remember being fascinated by the ones that had the sentence, "reist til Amerika" meaning "went to America." My grandmother told me that at one point in Norway's history nearly half the population, left for opportunity, and as I have come to find out, religious freedom.

On Friday, I decided to look at my gg-grandmother Jonette Kristoffersdatter (see pedigree above). I looked up her parents, filled in the names of her husband and children, and then started listing her siblings. I realized that once again I was facing the three who had gone to America -- Martin, Hans, and Haakine. I didn't have any birth dates, so I went through the records on the Norwegian Digital Archive site until I found them.
So now what?

I couldn't place them or their mother Ellen in 1875 or after, and although there was no evidence that my ggg-grandmother Ellen had gone with her children, I grew suspicious of this as I hit a wall everywhere I looked for her in Norway. As for her husband, I figured out that he had died in 1862, so there was the reason for not finding him in the later census.

With a bit of trepidation, I started to look at American records. Norwegian records now feel like a broken-in pair of shoes, but not so for American records. And since I haven't had to look for American records, I wasn't sure what to expect. Well, I renewed my Ancestry membership so I could look at the record hits. I put in the first brother, my great-great uncle Martin Christophersen, and his birth date. The first record I found that made any sense was one of a man returning from Norway in 1927 at age 77. I saw that his home was in Salt Lake City. So I went back to the search function and added the location of Salt Lake City. Suddenly there were trees belonging to other members to click on. I was able to look at them, and sure enough there were my ggg-grandparents and Martin Christophersen with plenty of source records on someone else's tree.

Martin Christophersen had emigrated to Salt Lake City in 1871 and started a family. I was able to go through several records and load them on my tree... his marriage, about nine children, death and burial records... Sadly, he died about a month after he returned from Norway on what must have been one last trip to the home country. Amazing! I also found some records of brother Hans... and the biggest surprise of all was that their mother, my ggg-grandmother died in Salt Lake City! This means that although I am a first-generation born American (or so I thought), my ggg-grandmother lived here and died here in the U.S. It means that her other 4 children remained behind in Norway and continued their lines there, as in my case, until my father decided to come to the States.

Now one thing I didn't count on was that my ggg-grandparents were Mormon converts. This just seemed so strange to me because, as I far as I knew, my line had always been Lutheran. I think that my gg-grandmother Jonette continued in the Lutheran tradition as she was confirmed in the Lutheran church at the time her parents had already converted to Mormonism. But then again, she was raised by her aunt and uncle and not her parents. I believe this was due to poverty, and because her father died by the time she was 9 years old. With too many mouths to feed, I'm sure her mother decided to have her kids, or some of them, raised by relatives. But then she left with 2-3 of her other children for the new world and Salt Lake City.

Another thing I have since learned is that Mormon missionaries came to Norway around, or shortly after, 1850. They were successful in converting many Norwegians, but their religion was not easily accepted as other denominations were. Many Norwegian converts were encouraged to go to Salt Lake City or "Zion" to whorship freely. It seems that this exodus peaked around 1870, which is about when Martin Christophersen left Norway, as well as the others. So by some weird twist of fate, I have some ancestral connection to the LDS church. How interesting! I also found records showing that my ancestors are designated as Pioneer Sons of Utah.

Well, there you have it -- my exciting find the last few days. I hope I can find some graves. It looks like they may exist, but I'd have to go to Salt Lake City. I have made contact with one of the tree owners I found, and he has told me he may have some access to LDS books about the Utah pioneers where there may be more information and possibly pictures!
I will keep you posted on any new finds! Here is a link explaining about the LDS church in Norway in the 1800's.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Life on the Glomma River

Today I wanted to share a poem written by my great-grandmother. I LOVE this poem because it gives a good idea of life in the late 1800's, and because it tells me a lot about what she was like and what mattered to her. I actually knew her, but she died when I was quite young, so I don't remember her. But I am putting up a picture of her during her younger days. I think it might be her confirmation picture. At the end of her poem, she says to never forget your home or your loved ones. I take that to mean not to forget where I came from... not to forget her. So I gladly post this in her memory. Oh, and the house she says her father built up the hill... this is the house pointed to in yesterday's blog.

Childhood Memories
By Joergine Amalie Ludvigsdatter (Hvidsten), my great-grandmother
Born May 23, 1889, Borge, Oestfold, Norway
Written circa 1949 in Norwegian and in rhyme
Translated by Roger Emil Haugen

I will always remember my first childhood home, which was situated below the hill where the Glomma (river) rushes by. There, I, mother and father, and three siblings lived in peace at my grandparents’ place.

Yes, those were happy days, that I can assure you, as the timber float in the Glomma passed by. And there was a lot of timber, and a lot of men, and I stood there often, watching them from shore.

Yes, Glomma, that was the boy who carried on his back all the timber that the mills along the banks later cut. And the timber was floated through the Sarpfossen (waterfall), and it was impossible to avoid it suffering some damage.

And so it was floated through the Visten barrier, but it did not stay there long. They pulled it through the barriers and along the beach, as they were busy as summer came along.

During winter there was no timber in sight, but it was fun to watch grandfather anyway, because grandfather had a large boathouse, where he built boats, something he had learned.

And I was there so often, as there was much to see. But grandfather probably wanted to be left alone. But he was so kind; I could not understand why he wanted to be rid of me.

Then I want to say something about my grandmother. I thought there was nobody on earth like her. I can visualize her when she wanted to look good, wearing her cape and her black dress.

She was so kind to everyone who came and asked for food. She always seemed to have something in her bowl. And often there were some who asked for shelter too, and were never denied.

And grandfather and grandmother both loved God. They wanted to try to abide by his commandments. And their home was always open to those who wanted to honor God.

So, let me not forget my dear mother and father. I don’t think many had better parents. They loved their children and we loved them. I have such good memories of my dear childhood home.

And the time passed, and I was seven. And that our home was getting crowded cannot be denied. So, father built his own house, on top of the hill, and during winter we moved up there.

And during spring, in our new house, a little sister was born, and we were five. But grandmother and grandfather wanted me with them, so I remained there and thrived.

And the years passed happily for me at my grandparents, until a sad event, as grandmother died and left an empty space.

Grandfather was sad and still wanted me, but that was not possible without grandmother. It was not so bad, since I had my father and mother, and all my siblings.

Grandfather later moved in with us, and the family increased as time passed. The flock of siblings grew, as eventually we were ten.

And time passed, it did not stay still. I will always remember my dear father. He is no longer with us, but with God. I remember he loved God and his Bible.

All of this is long ago and I now have my own home. I was not old when I stood before the altar. We were both young when we promised our God to remain true to each other for the rest of our lives.

God, I want to thank you for the children you gave us. There is nothing we love more in this world. And thank you that they are kind and have a good life, which is what makes me very, very happy.

My mother still lives, reaching old age. She will soon be 84. She now is waiting to go home to God and there have a happy reunion with her loved ones.

Now I also am getting old. I am 60 and if I get still older I will get the strength from God. My strongest wish is to meet again all my loved ones in the presence of Jesus, when we are no longer here.

To my dear grandchildren I want to say a few words: Never forget your childhood home, nor father and mother. And don’t forget Jesus and that he will walk with you and give you peace and happiness.

Thank you dear Mailis for the years of happiness you have given us. Nobody could have had a better daughter.

I well remember the day in July when we were expecting a guest and wondered if it would be a boy or a girl. Because boys, we already had two.

But girl we had only one, and really wanted another. And time went and the clock showed five. Then, you had arrived just as we expected father to come home.

And the boys ran to meet him and saw the suitcase opened and said, now you will be happy, as a baby girl has arrived, so now let’s go in.

Now we will finally see the baby girl, and father was happy and had to laugh. And the baby was loved by everyone, especially by big sister.

Now she is grown and married, and has given her love to Harald. I hope she will be as dear to him as she has been to all of us.

Now I wish you both happiness in all things, large and small. When the baby girl arrives and you have become a mother, everyone will cheer. Harald might want a boy, but whatever it is it will be good. Boy or girl, we will cry hurray.

Yes, you must not forget the home you left and the loved ones who were close to you. And don’t forget Jesus, who loves you so much and wants to be near you in your home.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Hvidsten/Vesten, today, on the Glomma River, Borge, Oestfold, Norway. The dark line points to the house my great-great grandfather Ludvig Hansen built in the late 1800's.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

Tanum Kirke was built between 1100 and 1130. It is located in the municipality of Baerum (Akershus). The church is Romanesque and has lime paintings that date back to the 1300's. It also has some medieval sculptures. Many of my grandmother's ancestors were baptized, confirmed, and married here. Even my brother was baptized here!

Last night, as I researched about the church, I discovered that the church has 3000 graves, and that some of the graves date back to the 17th century! I thought that just maybe some of the graves may have names and dates. I have walked there before, years ago, but I don't remember what the old headstones look like. Next summer, I plan to go to Norway on a genealogy tour, and I will definitely stop to check out the graves here with my list of ancestors in hand. It would be so exciting to discover an old grave belonging to someone in my line!

There is a very nice site online that allows you to look up Norwegian cemeteries. You can find lists of people buried in different cemeteries, and in some cases a photograph of the headstones. I found my great-great grandfather and grandmother, Emil and Hanna Haugen, this way, but there does not seem to be a list yet for the Tanum Kirke.

Here is a link to the Norwegian Graveyard Database:


It is available in both Norwegian and English.

Have fun graveyard mining!