Monday, July 5, 2010

Sunday Biography Series -- The Christophersons, Part IV

Ellen Hansdatter Christopherson

Ellen Hansdatter (27 Aug 1822 - 24 Mar 1899) was born on Løken Farm, Lommedalen, Baerum in Norway and baptized in the old Tanum Kirke on 8 September 1822.  She was the sixth child of eight born to Hans Andersen and Marthe Nilsdatter.  Unfortunately, her mother died at the age of 32 from pneumonia when Ellen was only 5 years old.  However, Ellen seems to have been raised with her father and probably other family, as she and her siblings continued to live on Løken Farm.  On the 9th of October in 1836, Ellen was confirmed in the Lutheran Tanum Kirke, and in 1850 she married her deceased sister's (Maren Hansdatter) husband, Kristoffer Pedersen.  She was still living in Løken when she married him.  Once married she moved to Burud Farm where her husband and several generations before him had lived.

In my last post, I explained a bit about how Ellen came to move to Kristiania (now known as Oslo).  Apparently, Kristoffer had not perfomed his duties appropriately and was asked to leave Burud Farm.  Kristoffer died in Kristiania a few years later, leaving Ellen widowed with several children.  (In all, she and Kristoffer had 7 children.) Alone, Ellen may have been forced to have some or all of her children raised by family and friends, at least temporarily.  Her daughter, my gg-grandmother, Jonette Kristoffersdatter, was in fact raised by Ellen's sister, Anne Marie, in Skollerud, Lommedalen, in Baerum.  Furthermore, in the 1865 census, I have found only one Ellen Hansdatter living in Oslo (9 Jernbanetorvet Street) who was born in Baerum in the right year.  Although it is possible the woman is not my Ellen, I feel it is likely that it is. The woman is listed as widowed, which fits; she is also living with other people -- none of them her children --and her occupation is as a worker in a steam factory.  I have yet to figure out what type of factory this is, so if anyone knows, please enlighten me. 

Ellen was obviously down on her luck once she was widowed.  But her children, at least some of them, seem to have been close by, as Martin and Hans worked as gardners at the King's castle in Oslo.  We also know from a tale that was passed down to her descendants that when her son Martin converted to Mormonism she followed him to a meeting to see what this new religion was about.  She hid in a corner and listened and was so impressed she felt compelled to become a Mormon herself.  A few years after her son Martin left for Salt Lake City, Utah, she followed, arriving circa 1876.

I don't know too much about Ellen's life in Salt Lake City.  A year ago, I didn't even know who she was, nor did I know I had Mormons in the family, and I certainly didn't expect to have a ggg-grandmother buried in the United States when as far as I knew, I was a first-generation American.  Wow!  What a journey this has been!  Since then, I have accumulated documentation on the lives of her children in Salt Lake City and also a little bit about her life.  I learned she became a Mormon along with three of her children and possibly a brother.  Her daughter, my gg-grandmother Jonette, remained Lutheran and never left Norway.  I assume the other children who remained in Norway also did not convert.  I also know that when her son, Martin, left Utah for Norway on one of his early missions as president -- a mission that would take him away for about two years -- that Ellen moved in with his wife and children to help out.  The next point in her timeline is her death in 1899.  I found her obituary, which stated that she died in the home of her son, Martin Christopherson.  No cause of death is mentioned.  She is buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.  I would very much like to know if there are any other stories about her between her dates of 1822 and 1899.  In the mean time, I am happy to have learned so much about an ancestor I had never heard of just one year ago.

Note: By Norwegian tradition, Ellen would not have been a "Christopherson."  Her children were Christophersons by patriarchal tradition, but Ellen must have wanted to avoid confusion in the United States and chose to use the same surname as that of her children.


  1. Astrid, it is great to read your biography on your norwegian ancestors!

    I think "Dampkokeriet" is "Dampkjøkkenet" - - search for Christiania Dampkljøkken and you will get a lot of pictures.

    Found this (and put it in Google translator)
    Christiania Steam Kitchen A / S in Oslo was founded in 1857. Business and residential house in Torggata from the same eight years is the work of architect Georg Andreas Bull. It was originally an institution for serving cheap meals in a large dining room, but later became a food enterprise with production, catering and food service operations. 1971 merged with Oslo Folk Restaurants. In 1970 - and 1980-year drive Christiania Steam Kitchen catering business, especially at oil installations in the North Sea. 1988 The company was taken over by SAS Service Partner.
    The norwegian text:
    Christiania Dampkjøkken A/S i Oslo ble grunnlagt 1857. Forretnings- og boliggården i Torggaten 8 fra samme år er et verk av arkitekten Georg Andreas Bull. Det var opprinnelig en institusjon for servering av billige middagsretter i en stor spisesal, men ble senere et matvarebedrift med produksjon, catering og serveringsvirksomhet. 1971 sammensluttet med Oslo Folkerestauranter. I 1970- og 1980-årene drev Christiania Dampkjøkken cateringvirksomhet, særlig ved oljeinstallasjonene i Nordsjøen. Bedriften ble 1988 overtatt av SAS Service Partner.

  2. What an interesting story! How exciting to find ggg grandmother in the states! Thanks for sharing.