I left off on my last post with Akoline/Oleane's roots in Sweden and her migration with her mother to Sarpsborg and the Fredrikstad area of Oestfold, Norway. We also know she married a Swedish sailor who also emigrated to the same area of Norway and died at sea about 5 years later when their son, my gg-grandfather, Emil, was only 4 years old. She then married another Swedish man, a shoemaker, and had two children with him, Hartvig and Harda, who were baptized at a very late age. I had also never found the baptismal certificate for my gg-grandfather, her son from the first marriage to my ggg-grandfather Samuel, but he had been confirmed in the Lutheran church.
One day, I stubbornly decided I was going to find my gg-grandfather's birth/baptismal record... and that was that. I had searched the Glemmen and Vestre Fredrikstad records time and time again with no luck. But I decided to check all the diary and "other notes" digitized parish records. It took a while, but I struck gold! I found a note regarding Oleane and Samuel having a son, Emil Georg, on September 10, 1871. I was ecstatic. But why would this be in the "notes" section? I found the answer two pages prior to this note. Another notation said: 7 February 1871, the spouses, sailor (”matros”) Samuel Andreasen, Swedish of birth, born 3 May 1841, and wife Oleane Johansdatter born 17 February 1850, living at Trosvigbjerget, have announced today that they have left the State Church (Statskirken) and will join the Methodist society. This occurred before my great-great grandfather was born; therefore, I was sure his birth record could be found in the records of the Methodist Church of Fredrikstad. (Unfortunately, I found these records were not available online; however, my father did manage, a few months ago, to receive a copy of my gg-grandfather's baptismal record from the Methodist Church -- very exciting to finally have this after so much hunting.)
7 February, 1871, my great-great-great grandparents leave the State Church for the Methodist Church. Østfold county, Glemmen, Parish register (official) nr. 8 (1862-1871), Other type of list 1871, page 510. Note: click on picture for larger viewing.
When I learned about the Methodist connection, I immediately told my father, who grew up in Norway, what I had found. He was quite surprised about this as he had not heard much about Methodists in Norway, nor had he ever heard any mention of these facts in the family. My research shows that Methodism was introduced in Norway in 1853 by the Norwegian sailor Ole P. Peterson, who was from Oestfold and had been converted from Lutheranism while in America. The first Methodist Church in Fredrikstad was built in 1868. John Follesdal wrote an article on Rootsweb (here) where he explains how for several hundred years Norwegian law made membership in the Lutheran State church mandatory. Legal protection of religious freedom was not introduced in Norway until 1845 and allowed Norwegians for the first time to resign their membership in the Lutheran State Church, and also allowed non-Lutheran Christian congregations to be established. The dissenter law required that the local parish priest make an entry in the parish register when someone resigned their membership in the State Church. Parish priests were also required to enter information about the births, marriages, and deaths of dissenters in their parish registers, and dissenters were required to notify their local parish priest of these events. In addition, dissenters were required to maintain their own congregation registers, and once a year they had to submit a report to the amtmann, or county governor, detailing the births, marriages and deaths in their congregation, as well as a list of their members. The amtmann, in turn, passed this information on to the local parish priest. As a result, information regarding the births, marriages, and deaths of dissenters should have been included in the parish registers maintained by the parish priests, although this was not always the case. (Again, see John Follesdal's article here.)
I soon found more religious dissent related to my ggg-grandmother when she married the second time, in 1877, to Lauritz Andersen, the shoemaker. I already mentioned she had two children with him – Harda born in 1877 and Hartvig born in 1879. I had found Oleane and Lauritz’s civil marriage record scribbled into the parish book without a number, and a notation that said “Anmeldelse fra Byfogden af 2/3-77,” which means, “notification from the Stipendiary magistrate March 2, 1877.” As you may recall, her two children were baptized quite late, on the same day, when Hartvig was 8 years old and Harda 10 years old. On their baptismal records, it said their mother Oleane was no longer a member of the Methodist Church, but it also said their father was a Plymouth Brother and was in America – I am guessing he went there for missionary work.
When Harda Marie is baptized her mother is “forhenv. Methodist” (used to be a Methodist) and her father is a Plymouth Brother. Østfold county, Borge in Borge, Parish register (official) nr. I 8A (1887-1902), Birth and baptism records 1887, page 5.
Yet again, I was struck with a new religion to study. I had never heard of the Plymouth Brothers, but they still exist today and now prefer the name Christian Brethren. This religion began in Plymouth, England and spread throughout Europe in the 1860’s, Norway being one of the countries. The Plymouth Brothers are highly conservative and evangelical and focus on their Bible. Women also subordinate to the men in the church, so I wondered how Oleane was still married to a Plymouth Brother but joined the State Church again and had her children baptized as well. I soon found my answer with the record for Oleane’s fourth child by another man in 1890. Apparently, she had a "fling" or romance of some sort with her much younger boarder! They were never married. The pastor noted in the record belonging to her new daughter that her husband, Lauritz Andersen, had gone to America 10 years ago, circa 1880, and that she had not heard from him in 6 years. In other words, when she had her two children by him baptized, he had already been in America for several years. She was also still a "wife" without knowledge of her husband's whereabouts in America for several years during her fourth child's baptism. Perhaps she did not expect he would come back when she had a relationship with the father of this child.
Birth record for Oleane's fourth child, Amine Mathilde. The record says Amine is the daughter of the bachelor Martinius Johannesen and married woman, Oleane Johannesdatter. The note in parentheses says she is married to Lauritz Andersen who went to America ten years ago and from whom she had not heard news in six years. Østfold county, Borge in Borge, Parish register (official) nr. I 8A (1887-1902), Birth and baptism records 1890, page 30.
Stay tuned for part IV coming next Sunday on this Sunday Biography Series.
Part I found here.
Part II found here.