Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wordless Wednesday -- Nonna Pina

Giuseppa Napoli, June 11, 1914 - February 25, 1998
My grandmother, born in Catania, Sicily, Italy to mother, Francesca Scuderi, and father, Pasquale Ursino
Picture: Age 16

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday --

Need to find a grave in the U.S.?  I have actually found several at

Here is one I recently found for a friend of mine by using the site.  As it turned out, he had fought for the confederacy during the Civil War and is buried at Elmwood Cemetery in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Biography Series -- The Christophersons, Part III

Last week, I recounted a bit about my ggg-grandfather Kristoffer (Christopher) Pedersen (here).  Today, I will tell you a bit about his wife, Ellen, and two of his children, Hans and Martin Christopherson.  I will tell you how they came to become Mormons and move to Salt Lake City, Utah.

Last spring, my parents travelled to Salt Lake City and met with other descendants of Kristoffer Pedersen and Ellen Hansdatter (Christopherson in the U.S.). They were extremely lucky to receive copies of family history stories that had been written in the 60's and 70's.  I will share parts of what was written by Kristoffer and Ellen's granddaughter, Gertrude Christopherson (daughter of Hans Christopherson).  She wrote a life story of her father Hans on 7 April, 1963 -- this date would have marked Hans' 107th birthday. 

Gertrude's Memories as Written 7 April, 1963

... Our father's parents were Christopher Pedersen and Ellen Hansen, who had 7 children, Hans being their fourth.  His first wife was Ellen's sister, who had only one child, Peder Christopherson, before her death. As a small child, Hans lived with his parents on a farm which was a section of a great estate.  This estate was under the Feudal System and was divided into sections with a family living on each section.  Hans' father's job was to go to the city and bring back the necessary supplies for all those who lived on the large estate.  All the tenants were required to give a certain amount to the land owner, and as long as things were properly taken care of, they were permitted to remain on their property...

...After his father Christopher Pedersen died, his mother Ellen, who had 7 children, some of whom were very young, had a difficult time to raise her family.  She took her family and moved to Oslo, then called Christiania (note: this is incorrect. Christopher was dismissed from Burud and he moved the family to Oslo a few years before his death). It was here that her sons, Martin and Hans, learned the florist and gardening trade when they worked at the King's gardens at the Palace.

Martin, who was six years older than Hans, became real interested in the new religion, Mormonism, and he told his mother about the missionaries.  She did not scold him but went to their meeting place and hid behind a door where she could not be seen.  There she listened to the missionaries and became so thrilled and impressed.  A little later she joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  When her family heard about her actions they were greatly upset, but at the very next meeting she saw her brother there, who was greatly impressed that he wouldn't leave until he had been baptized that very night.  It is not hard to understand why Hans' posterity are of Ephraim, a wonderful blessing and heritage.

Our father's brother, Martin, who was first converted to the Gospel, came to Utah in 1871, and then about five years later he sent for his mother, Ellen, and Hans.  Their sister, Haagina also came to America.  Other members of the family remained in Norway...

Picture of the Royal Palace in Oslo, Norway, where Martin and Hans worked.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

This Week in History

1) My ggg-grandfather, Kristoffer Pedersen of Baerum, Norway, was born the 22nd of June 1821.  I posted about him last Sunday.  Click here to read.

2) My gggg-grandparents, Barbra Uldriksdatter and Simen Svendsen, were married June 26, 1831 in Tune Parish, Oestfold, Norway.  Barbra was from Yven farm, and they lived there together after their marriage.

Left: Yven farm today.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

My great-grandfather, Kristian Olausen Jordbaerhaugen, plows the land in Baerum, Norway, circa 1933.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday -- Cemetery of Catania in Sicily

I have visited this cemetery often in years past, but before becoming obsessed with genealogy, it never occured to me to take photographs of my family graves.  I hope to get some pictures from my mother when she visits the cemetery this summer.  I also hope she can find some graves, such as the one belonging to my great-grandfather. 

Picture from

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sunday Biography Series -- The Christophersons, Part II

Kristoffer Pedersen of Burud Farm -- my Great-Great-Great Grandfather

Kristoffer Pedersen (22 June 1821 - 31 October 1862) was born on Burud Farm, in Baerum, Norway, and represented the fourth generation as a leilending or tenant farmer there.  He married Maren Hansdatter (17 November 1820 - 22 February 1849) from Loeken Farm on 20 November 1846.  They had one child, Peder Kristoffersen, born 01 November 1847.  Unfortunately, Maren developed a nerve fever, according to her death record, and died on 22 February 1849.  Kristoffer Pedersen married again, exactly one year after Maren's death, to Maren's sister, Ellen (27 August 1822 - 24 March 1899).  Together with Ellen, they had seven children -- Martin, Hans, Haagine, Jonette, Kristian, Nicoline, and Line.  The first four children were born on Burud farm, and the others were born in Kristiania (Oslo) because, in 1857, Kristoffer Pedersen was dismissed from his position as a tenant farmer. 

I obtained the information of my ggg-grandfather's dismissal from a Bygdebok -- books that provide a wealth of genealogical information by giving brief histories of communities and the farms and people in that community. The bygdebok did not specify the reason for the dismissal, so I can only speculate.  In order to do this, though, I need to understand the leilending system of the time.  John Follesdal wrote a very nice article about Norwegian farms, and he explains how tenant farmers rented the land to work it and pay the landskyld, which was based on the productivity of the farm and not directly on the size of the farm.  The landskyld was payable in goods produced by the tenant farmer; this could include cow hides, butter, fish, etc.  John Follesdal believes the landskyld was originally set at 1/6th of the gross annual production of the farm.  Originally, farms were leased for one year, but later on the term of the leases increased to three years. This did not mean that a tenant farmer would have to move every three years; it meant that the landlord could take the farm back at the end of the lease term.  I imagine that Kristoffer Pedersen could not pay what he owed, for one reason or another, and was evicted, along with his family, for this reason. 

There isn't too much information regarding Kristoffer Pedersen once he moved to Kristiania with his family.  He lived on Trondhjemeveien in Oslo, a road that runs through the old section of Oslo today.  In 1862, just 5 years after leaving Burud Farm, he died, but the record does not state the cause of his demise.  I imagine his death must have been very difficult for his wife and children to accept and that they must have endured extreme hardship because of it.  But the Kristoffersen children and their mother, Ellen, were not easily intimidated.  Several of them would soon embark on a quest to quench their spiritual thirst and end up in a new world -- one they called Zion.

Stay tuned for the next installment of the Christopherson saga!

*Picture from

Friday, June 18, 2010

This Week in History

1) Janet Ledingham Christopherson, wife of my great-great uncle Martin Christopherson, was born June 14, 1857 in Leith, Midlothian, Scotland.  She was a convert, along with her family, to the Mormon faith.  Together, they left for Utah on a sailing vessel in 1866.  After six weeks at sea, they walked across the plains to Salt Lake City, Utah.  The story is that they arrived in 1869! 

 2) My great-uncle Nils Olausen Jordbaerhaugen and Annie Friel were married on June 17, 1918 in Saskatchewan, Canada.  Nils left Norway in 1907 and traveled first to North Dakota where his brother was living.  He eventually left for Saskatchewan, Canada, with three friends in search of land to homestead.  By 1915, he had a farm and a house built.  He then married Annie, who had come from Balfron, Glasgow, Scotland.  Her father and brother had emigrated a few years before she and her mother decided to sail the Cassandria across the Atlantic during the summer of 1916 -- the middle of World War I and a perilous voyage because of hidden mines in the ocean.
Pictured: Annie and Nels on their wedding day, June 17, 1918.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wordless Wednesday -- Aci Castello

Photo from the Catania Facebook Fan Page

This pretty town, Aci Castello, is in the province of Catania, Sicily.  It gets its name from the famous Norman castle, which was built in 1076.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday -- John F. Kennedy's Grave in 1965

Click on the picture for better viewing.

While scanning old pictures in a photo album given to me by my parents, I came across this photograph of John F. Kennedy's grave site at Arlington Cemetery in 1965.  Take a look and see how different it looks!  My mother is standing in front of it.  Picture is copyright protected and can be used with permission.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday Biography Series -- The Christophersons, Part I

I have decided to emulate Scripture and start this biography series with a genealogy report.  The Christopherson line is one I have traced back the farthest and contains a number of people I have studied in depth and found so interesting.  Please note that the spelling for "Christopherson" varies depending on whether it is the Norwegian, Danish, or anglicized version. 

This is what the Christopherson tree looks like:

Generation 1

1. Daniel Stokker -1 was born in 1577 in Bærum, Norway (Stokker Farm).
Daniel Stokker and unknown spouse married. They had the following child:

2. i. Peder Danielsen was born in 1609 in Bærum, Norway (Stokker Farm). He died in 1670 in Bærum, Norway.

Generation 2

2. Peder Danielsen-2 (Daniel-1) was born in 1609 in Bærum, Norway (Stokker Farm). He died in 1670 in Bærum, Norway.

Johanna Thoresdatter, daughter of Thore Larsen and Barbra Christoffersdatter, was born in 1618 in Bærum, Norway. She died in 1664 in Bærum, Norway.

Peder Danielsen and Johanna Thoresdatter married. They had the following child:

3. i. Aase Pedersdatter was born in 1635 in Bærum, Norway (Stokker Farm). She died in 1717 in Bærum, Norway.

Generation 3

3. Aase Pedersdatter-3 (Peder-2, Daniel-1) was born in 1635 in Bærum, Norway (Stokker Farm). She died in 1717 in Bærum, Norway.

Peder Christoffersen, son of Christoffer Andersen and Ingeborg Pedersen, was born in 1633 in Bærum, Norway. He died in Jan 1727 in Bærum, Norway.

Peder Christoffersen and Aase Pedersdatter married. They had the following child:

4. i. Kristoffer Pedersen was born in 1679 (Stokker Farm). He died in 1745 in Bærum, Norway (Bryn Farm).

Generation 4

4. Kristoffer Pedersen-4 (Aase-3, Peder-2, Daniel-1) was born in 1679 (Stokker Farm). He died in 1745 in Bærum, Norway (Bryn Farm).

Maren Nilsdatter, daughter of Nils Asbjornsen and Anna Johannesdatter, was born in 1677 in Bærum, Norway. She died in 1753 in Bærum, Norway.

Kristoffer Pedersen and Maren Nilsdatter married. They had the following children:

5. i. Peder Kristoffersen was born in 1719 in Bærum, Norway. He died in 1760 in Bærum, Norway.
ii. Helge Kristoffersdatter.
iii. Nils Kristoffersen.
iv. Kari Kristoffersdatter.
v. Johanne Kristoffersdatter.
vi. Mari Kristoffersdatter.
vii. Anna Kristoffersdatter.

Generation 5

5. Peder Kristoffersen-5 (Kristoffer-4, Aase-3, Peder-2, Daniel-1) was born in 1719 in Bærum, Norway (Bryn Farm). He died in 1760 in Bærum, Norway.

Anne Mikkelsdatter was born in 1719 in Bærum, Norway. She died in Bærum, Norway. Peder Kristoffersen and Anne Mikkelsdatter married. They had the following children:

6. i. Kristoffer Pedersen was born in 1752 in Bærum, Norway (Bryn Farm). He died on 12 Nov 1826 in Bærum, Norway.
ii. Jacob Pedersen was born in Bærum, Norway. He died in Bærum, Norway.

Generation 6

6. Kristoffer Pedersen-6 (Peder-5, Kristoffer-4, Aase-3, Peder-2, Daniel-1) was born in 1752 in Bærum, Norway (Bryn Farm). He died on 12 Nov 1826 in Bærum, Norway (Burud Farm).

Haagine Hellesdatter, daughter of Helge Christensen and Marte Haagensdatter, was born on 19 Dec 1756 in Bærum, Norway (Rud Farm). She died on 19 Mar 1818 in Bærum, Norway.

Kristoffer Pedersen and Haagine Hellesdatter married. They had the following children:

i. Helle Kristoffersdatter was born in 1782 in Bærum, Norway. She died in 1859 in Bærum, Norway.
7. ii. Peder Kristoffersen was born on 09 Aug 1785 in Bærum, Norway (Burud Farm). He married Anne Nilsdatter in 1811 (Wensaas Farm). He died on 23 Mar 1845 in Bærum, Norway.
iii. Mari Kristoffersdatter was born in 1788. She married Lars Henriksen in Baerum, Norway (Skollerud Farm).
iv. Marte Kristoffersdatter was born in 1790 in Bærum, Norway. She married Peder Svendsen in Baerum, Norway (Kirkeby Farm).
v. Anne Kristoffersdatter was born in 1800 in Bærum, Norway. She died in 1864 in Bærum, Norway. She married Soeren Muserud in Baerum, Norway.

Generation 7

7. Peder Kristoffersen-7 (Kristoffer-6, Peder-5, Kristoffer-4, Aase-3, Peder-2, Daniel-1) was born on 09 Aug 1785 in Bærum, Norway (Burud Farm). He died on 23 Mar 1845 in Bærum, Norway.

Peder Kristoffersen married the first time with Anne Nilsdatter (Wensaas Farm) in 1811. They had no children.

Haagine Kristensdatter, daughter of Kristen Mikkelsen and Mari Jensdatter, was born on 15 Jan 1786 in Bærum, Norway (Berger Farm). She died on 02 Apr 1849 in Bærum, Norway.

Peder Kristoffersen married a second time to Haagine Kristensdatter (Berger Farm) on 1818 in Baerum, Norway. They had the following children:

8. i. Kristoffer Pedersen was born on 22 Jun 1821 in Bærum, Norway (Burud Farm). He died on 31 Oct 1862 in Oestre Aker, Oslo.
ii. Haagine Pedersdatter was born in 1823 in Bærum, Norway.
iii. Anne Marie Pedersdatter was born on 30 Apr 1825 in Bærum, Norway. She died in 1909 in Bærum, Norway.
iv. Martine Pedersdatter was born in 1829 in Bærum, Norway.

Generation 8

8. Kristoffer Pedersen-8 (Peder-7, Kristoffer-6, Peder-5, Kristoffer-4, Aase-3, Peder-2, Daniel-1) was born on 22 Jun 1821 in Bærum, Norway (Burud Farm). He died on 31 Oct 1862 in Oestre Aker, Oslo.

Maren Hansdatter, daughter of Hans Andersen and Marthe Marie Nilsdatter, was born on 17 Nov 1820 in Bærum, Norway (Loeken Farm). She died on 28 Feb 1849 in Bærum, Norway.

Kristoffer Pedersen married the first time to Maren Hansdatter on 20 Nov 1846 in Bærum, Norway.  They had the following child:

i. Peder Kristoffersen was born in 1847 in Bærum, Norway (Burud Farm).

Kristoffer Pedersen was widowed and married a second time to Maren's sister, Ellen Hansdatter, on 22 Feb 1850 in Baerum, Akershus, Norway.  Ellen was born on 27 Aug 1822 in Bærum, Norway (Løken Farm). She died on 24 Mar 1899 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, USA. They had the following children:

i. Martin Christophersen was born on 13 Apr 1850 in Bærum, Norway (Burud Farm). He married Janet Farquhar Ledingham on 27 Dec 1874 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, USA. He died on 28 Aug 1927 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, USA.
ii. Haagine Kristoffersdatter was born on 25 Aug 1851 in Bærum, Norway (Burud Farm). She married Oscar Rydvall in 1879 in Salt Lake City, Utah. She died on 09 Aug 1929 in San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA.
iii. Jonette Kristoffersdatter was born on 22 Aug 1853 in Bærum, Norway (born in Burud Farm but raised in Skollerud Farm by aunt, Anne Hansdatter (Ellen's sister). She married Olaus Kristensen on 31 Oct 1875 in Baerum, Norway. She died on 21 Apr 1921 in Bærum, Norway (Jordbaerhaugen Farm).
iv. Hans Christophersen was born on 07 Jun 1856 in Bærum, Norway (Burud Farm). He died on 30 Jan 1938 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, USA.
v. Nicoline Kristoffersdatter was born on 24 Feb 1858 in Kristiania, Norway. She died on 24 Oct 1885. She married Anton Eriksen, a Kjoepmann.
vi. Line Kristoffersdatter was born in 1862 in Oslo, Norway.
vii. Kristian Kristoffersen was born on 28 Jan 1862 in Oslo, Oslo, Norway. He died on 19 Sep 1879 in Norway.

From here, it is 4 more generations to me.  In a nutshell, Jonette Kristoffersdatter and Olaus Kristensen Jordbaerhaugen had son Kristian Olausen Jordbaerhaugen who married Gustava Jonsdatter Bye; they had my grandmother, Gyda Kristiansen who married Thorolf Johannes Haugen. 

Next week on the Sunday Biography series, I will start recounting the stories of Kristoffer Perdersen and Ellen Hansdatter (Generation 8).  So stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

(Not so) Wordless Wednesday -- The Boys in the Forest

Click on picture for better viewing.

During WWII, Norway was occupied by Nazi Germany.  But that did not mean people were unwilling to fight the invasion.  Pictured are the Lommedalen "Boys in the Forest" also known as the "Freedom Fighters of 1945, Group 13313."  They would gather in the woods to practice military exercises and plan and carry out quiet sabotage missions against the Germans.  Among them were 8 family members pictured above: my grandmother's brothers John Bye, Trygve and Kjell Kristiansen; my grandmother's first cousins, Oddvar, Ragnar, and Ivar Jordbaerhaugen, and Hans Bakken; and my grandmother's nephew Roald Bye. 

Photo from the book, Lommedalen -- en bygd y bygda by Jacob Jacobsen.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sunday Biography Series -- Akoline Oleane Jakobsdatter Part IV

I left off last time with my ggg-grandmother Akoline Oleane's conversion to Methodism, her marriage to her second husband, her return to the Lutheran Church, and the birth of her fourth child, Amine, by another man while her husband had disappeared in America for 10 years.  As it turns out, the father of Amine, Martinius Johannesen, was a boarder in Oleane's home.  He was 16 years younger than Oleane, and the story is that when Oleane became pregnant he was scared and ran away.  I learned about this from Amine's grandson, whom I met thanks to my computer.  He also added that Martinius did see Amine until she was about 10 years old, but he stopped after this age.  With this information in hand, I was able to find a series of records to help piece together the probable sequence of events.  Martinius moved to Hvaler to work at stone-cutting, and it was there that he married and started a family -- about the same time he stopped seeing Amine. 

In the meantime, according to Amine's grandson, Oleane worked cleaning at Sarpsborg Hospital (circa 1900).  She was also a strict mother, understandable when one is a single mother without any support from family.  One story Amine told was how Oleane had scraped together enough money to hand out a good bag of candy to Amine and some friends for Christmas. Well, Amine in her young life had never seen so much candy at once and was so enthralled by the view before her that she wanted it all to herself. As punishment for this, Oleane said there would never be another Christmas, which ended up meaning there was never a Christmas tree again in the living room.  And that was that!  Poor Amine made her own tree out of a broom the next Christmas. I do think Oleane's punishment goes a bit too far, but Oleane had lived such a hard life, never having a husband to help with the bills and children.  It would be hard to know what went through her head.

One interesting, quirky thing I learned about Oleane is that she smoked clay pipes, which was highly unusual, and certainly inappropriate for a lady. In any case, she would quickly put the pipe in her apron pocket when there were strangers at the door; her apron pockets were always full of scorched holes.  This image beckons me to write such a character into a book.  I love reading about women who do unusual things for their time.

Overall, Oleane and her children had hard lives, with the exception perhaps of her son, Emil, my gg-grandfather.  Of course, his youth without a father was not likely to have been easy, and then his step-father disappeared in America.  But he eventually did pretty well for himself working the lumber and other jobs; he also married and built his own house.  In fact, in 1900, the census shows that he and his wife took in his mother, Oleane, and two of her children, Hartvig and Amine.  Harda was married by then.  But, in contrast, Emil's half-siblings did struggle much more during their lives.  Harda married an alcoholic, Hartvig was an alcoholic, and Amine had a child out of wedlock with an unknown man, although she did eventually marry a good man.  However, I shall share these stories with more detail when it is their turn to have their biographies told. 

Oleane moved to Lilleaker, Oslo, to help Amine when she became a single mother.  She stayed there until she died, according to Amine's grandson, on 24 August 1924.  I tried to find her death record, but it would be found in Ullern Parish, and for some reason, they have not released many records to the digital archives.  I hope to attain this record directly from the parish at some point.  I did write to them several months ago but have not received a response.

Next time on the Sunday Biography Series, another ancestor takes center stage, so stay tuned!

Click here for Part I, Part II, and Part III.

*Woman smoking pipe:

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday -- Photo by a String

Thorolf Haugen and Gyda Kristiansen circa 1935

Last summer, my uncle gave me two of my grandmother's old photo albums.  I am so lucky! One of them had mostly my father's baby pictures, which included pictures with my great-grandparents and great-great grandparents.  The other album had pictures of my grandparents before they were married and as a young married couple.  There are several pictures of a romantic camping trip they took together, and many are of the two of them together. 

So how did they manage this in those days with an old-fashioned camera and no one to take their picture? 

My grandfather tied a string to the shutter button of the camera and pulled it each time.  I always thought this was a pretty neat idea!  Here is a picture of the two of them where you can see the string my grandfather pulls to take the shot.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wordless Wednesday --Wedding of Joergine and Thomas Haugen

My great-grandparents' wedding day, November 10, 1907.  Joergine (Ludvigsdatter) and Thomas Haugen were both 18 years old and stayed married for 61 years.  They were from the Fredrikstad area of Norway.

My great-grandmother wrote: ...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... (translated from Norwegian)