Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Norway, Days 11 and 12

On Day 11 in Norway, we took a tour of different farms in the area of Baerum, Norway, where ancestors had lived.  Some of the farms I visited were Bryn, Løken, Grorud, Skollerud, Burud, Bye, and Jordbaerhaugen.  Bryn, Burud, Løken, Skollerud, and Jordbaerhaugen are mostly important to my Christopherson (Kristoffersen) line I often blog about.  This line goes back from my grandmother's father.  Grorud and Bye are farms in the line of my grandmother's mother.  There were other farms I was not able to visit because of lack of time or the logistics of getting there, such as Burudhaugen and Stokker, but I received pictures of them from relatives.

Løken Farm today.  My ggg-grandmother, Ellen Hansen Christopherson
 was born and raised here.
Bryn Farm.  My ggggggg-grandfather (yes, 7 greats) moved from Stokker Farm
to Bryn Farm.  Four generations later, the line moved to Burud Farm.

Houses on Burud Farm (above and below).  Three generations lived on Burud.

Part of Burud today is a golf course.

Jordbaerhaugen Farm where my gg-grandparents, Jonette Kristoffersdatter and
Olaus Kristensen, lived.

Bye Farm.  Several generations on my grandmother's mother's line lived here.
In the afternoon, my grandmother's oldest brother's daughter (aka, her niece) came to visit us with some pictures.  There is an interesting story about my grandmother's oldest brother, John.  When he was born, my g-grandparent's were living in Midtskogen where my g-grandfather worked, tending to the telegraph lines.  But this place was far from civilization, so to speak, and my g-grandparents left their son with his aunt and uncle.  When they left Midtskogen and went to get their son, he didn't want to leave the people he now considered his parents.  I was told that my g-grandmother would say "never give away your children, even for a little while."  She obviously had regrets.  However, John was often visiting his biological parents and all his siblings.

The altar in Tanum Church (built circa 1200).
Day 12 was a Sunday, and we thought we would take advantage of the church services, so we could see the inside of our ancestral churches and also to participate in a Lutheran service.  First we went over to Tanum church in Baerum, which was built around 1200.  The inside was beautiful, and I took several pictures.  We found out that the old baptismal font had to be removed because it needed repair.  It was in the back room of the church, and I was able to see it.  It is about 300 years old and was used for many of my ancestors and even my brother.  Afterward, we drove over to Haslum Church, also a very nice church, and we stayed for their service.  There were two baptisms on this day, which was very nice to see.  I could well imagine a baptism during older times.  After the service, we walked around the cemetery.  The grounds are so lovely and peaceful. 

The baptismal font in Haslum Church (built
about 800 years ago).

For lunch, we went over to another cousin's home -- my father's cousin to be exact.  Several other relatives joined us, and we ate a lovely typical Scandinavian display of cold foods.  Later, when we had coffee, my father's cousin gave me a very thoughtful and wonderful gift.  She had been given a silver necklace with a cross pendant after my great-grandmother's death. and she decided to pass it on to me.  Wow.  I was rather emotional at the unexpected gift.  I have been wearing it quite often, and I was told it was something my g-grandmother Jørgine liked to wear often.  It was probably a gift from my g-grandfather Thomas.  Anyway, we had a wonderful time, and after all that food, we went to our next stop for dinner at the house of some old Italian-Norwegian friends.  Of course, they made a wonderful pizza I was barely able to eat because I was so full from my previous event.

Haslum Church

This marked the last day in Baerum.  The next day, we were to take a trip to Western Norway.  So stay tuned for those pictures and stories coming up soon!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Norway, Day 10

Painting by Christian Krohg at the Maritime museum in
Oslo.  Krohg liked to paint marine scenes in action. 
Here, we see a seaman handling heavy sails high up
in the rig.  My ggg-grandfather Samuel Andreassen
was probably doing exactly this when he fell to his
death on the 3rd of June, 1875.
On Day 10 in Norway, the plan was to visit the Statsarkivene in Oslo (same building as the National Archives) because I really wanted to find my ggg-grandfather's sailor record.  This is the same ggg-grandfather who emigrated to Norway from Sweden in 1869.  He had already been a sailor since 1859 in Sweden.  My gg-grandfather Emil had told my father, who had been working on a school book report on Norway's maritime history, that he had lost his father Samuel when he was only 4 years old (in 1875).  He explained to my father how his father had climbed the mast of his ship and fallen to his death, and that this had happened off the coast of South America. 

On one of my earlier posts from Norway, I told you about my visit to the Methodist church, in Fredrikstad, where I met with an historian who showed me the church's death records (most online records are from the Lutheran church and a few dissenter congregations).  For the first time I saw that my ggg-grandfather Samuel Andreasen had died on the 3rd of June, 1875, by "drowning at sea."  I thought perhaps this meant he was buried at sea.  I was hoping a visit to the Statsarkivene would give me more detail.  Unfortunately, seaman and military records are not available online, and you have to go in person, or try requesting the information by mail or email. 

The "Sjøfartshovedrulle" is the most valuable record to look for, as the personal history and career of the sailors were recorded on this register. You will find the name, residence, date of birth (and death), date of sailors patent issue, and the dates of advancement in rank. The records will also tell you what ship your ancestor was on, his destinations etc...  For good information on the seaman registers, click here.

Microfilm readers at the Statsarkivene in Oslo
Well, all this is good and great, right?  Here is where I will actually make a complaint -- my first for the whole trip in Norway.  Although Norway is phenomenal for having a wonderful online archive site with FREE records of all kinds, and I could go on and on lauding them for being a genealogist's dream come true in practically all things genealogy -- records and bygdeboks and so on... I was quite disappointed with the service at the Statsarkivene.  Who would have guessed!  The people I happened to encounter on this particular day did not seem to know what they had on hand, whether I asked about the seaman records or soldier records (I also wanted to find the soldier record for a gggg-grandfather from Halden, Norway).  I was even told I could find my records online (completely untrue) and given the hint I should go home.  Like I said, this may have just been my bad luck on this particular day, and on another day I would have found some better help.  Nonetheless, I was not taking no for an answer, and with my father's help I explained that the records existed on their site and that they were not available online.  Luckily, I was also meeting a blogging friend -- Laila.  She was the president of the Oslo area genealogy society for several years (find her blog here), and we had planned to meet in person.  I went into the reading area, and she was there with Liv, who also worked for DIS-Norge (genealogy society). After greeting Laila and Liv in the reading room, Laila came out and basically told the front-desk person what records they have available regarding seamen.  I was able to get a print-out of their microfilm catalogue for seaman records, and then we went to the room with the microfilms, found what I needed, and set up the first reel on the reader.  What a relief!  I have to say that by now I wasn't feeling too hopeful of finding anything.  Somehow I'd lost my faith in what I was searching for, but I was so wrong. 

His name was spelled in Swedish -- Samuel Andreasson.  Unfortunately,
the micorfilm printer was not available, and I had to take a picture of the
screen with my camera.
After about an hour and thirty minutes, or so, of reading through the records, I saw his beautiful name: Samuel Andreasson.  It was written with the Swedish spelling, and I wondered if he signed the register himself.  It did seem to me that the names on the register did not always match the handwriting of the other entries or that of all the individual names.  It also seemed odd that a Norwegian official would have written his name with the Swedish spelling "Andreasson" rather than "Andreasen." 

The list of ships sailed are on the left (and the year).  The center colums tell
us where the ship left from and where it was headed.  The last ship listed is
Frithjoff, which was headed to Bristol, England.  Next to the destination is the
death date of 3 June 1875 and the explanation that he had died at sea after a
fall from the top. 
I literally could have screamed, I was so excited.  I ran to get Laila in the reading room because I needed another pair of eyes to tell me I was seeing what I thought I was seeing.  Laila came back with me, and we both looked at Samuel's records.  He had signed up in December of 1869, the same month he married Oleane Jakobsdatter, and there was a list of ships and tours he had been on with destinations such as England, Holland, and France -- among others.  And then there was the last ship where he had served: the Fristhjoff (not sure about the spelling).  Next to the ship's name came the information I had been looking for:  3 June 1875, dead at sea after a fall from the top (literal translation).  He had most definitely died after climbing the mast, probably to fix a sail.  The only thing that my gg-grandfather did not tell correctly was the location of the ship.  Samuel had not died off the coast of South America but off the coast of England, as the ship had been headed to Bristol, England.

Laila, me, and Liv at the Statsarkivene in Oslo
 What a relief!  I felt so happy and so sad at the same time.  I felt that I had brought Samuel back to life.  Here were the voyages he had made toward the end of his life.  These were voyages he took, leaving his wife and small son back at home, and on one voyage he never returned to them.  How sad.  And to think that only two years ago I didn't even know his name.  His descendants had forgotten him and his life's story, but he had come back and he was there on the microfilm screen telling me what had happened to him.  He mattered on this day to me, his descendant, and he was not forgotten.  So, here I tell you that Samuel Andreasen, husband to Oleane Jakobsdatter and father to Emil Georg Samuelsen, was born in Sweden to a soldier and his wife.  I have seen the cottage in Sweden where he was born in 1841.  I have followed his path of emigration to Norway from Sweden.  I have seen the Methodist church where he was baptized as a convert and where he had his son baptized.  I found his voyages on the seas as a sailor and learned of his unfortunate accident and early death.  This ancestor's life truly went full circle for me this summer.

Later that day, my uncle invited us to sail on his sailboat.  Strange, but this seemed rather fitting on this day.  So my son, me, and my father set out to meet my uncle and his significant other at their boat.  It was a surprisingly gorgeous evening after a bit of rain in the afternoon.  The water was beautiful; the view was extraordinary.  What a wonderful way to spend the evening.  We found a spot to anchor for a while and have some coffee and dessert.  On this evening, being out at sea was in my blood.  My ancestors had taken to the seas and at least one had died there... who knows how many there are I will never know about, because I'm guessing some of those pesky Vikings who traveled the world were related to me.

My son and uncle's dog sailing.  Scenes on the fjord below.

Thanks for tuning in.  My last few days in Norway will be posted in the next couple of days.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Norway, Day 9

From the moment I learned that "Haugen" was a surname derived from a specific location, I have wanted to find it.  But "Haugen" means "the hill," and plenty of people lived on one because Norway is a land of hills.  Of course, I didn't understand at the time how to go about finding records and doing genealogical research.  Once I started on the journey, though, it became one of my dearest goals.  And find it I did, with some help from others, too. 

The first hint of a location came from my great-grandfather's baptismal record.  It said his parents were living in Moum Farm, Borge Parish, Østfold, and beneath the farm name was another in parentheses -- Haugen.  A hill in Moum Farm it was then!  From census records I also knew that it was Moum Søndre or South Moum.  That narrowed it down pretty well.  But, of course, I wanted to know exactly where Haugen was.  Through an historian in the area (see his web site here), I learned about property records on the Digital Arkivet site and, voila, the property record for Haugen in Moum Søndre was found.  It clearly showed that my ggg-grandfather Andreas Andersen was the first Haugen, obtaining property rights in 1867.  His daughter, Hanna Marie Andreasdatter married my gg-grandfather, Emil Georg Samuelsen, and the record shows they also purchased a lease of land at Haugen to build another house.  It seems like several siblings of Hanna's also lived at Haugen and carried the Haugen surname.

The property record for Haugen in Moum Farm, Borge Parish, Østfold
But is finding this record good enough for me when I am in Norway and can see Haugen with my own eyes?  Of course not!  But how to find it...

Lucky for me, my father's cousin contacted someone who had actually grown up in Haugen.  Before my arrival in Norway, he showed her the way to the ruins of Haugen.  Today, there is a company on the Glomma River there, and the vegetation has taken over the area where the Haugen houses once stood.  The man she met said the houses were destroyed in the 1960s.  He remembered a place that was very beautiful with a good view of the river and fruit trees he used to climb as a boy.

So, on the morning of my 9th day in Norway, we set out to see Haugen with my father's two cousins, the daughters of one of his cousins, my mother, and my son.  My father was feeling better, so he also came along.  We followed my father's cousin to the site, which was somewhat industrial looking with the company's handiwork all over the area.  After our cousin received permission from the office, we headed to a wooded area nearby.  To my left, there were piles of dirt obstructing the view of the river.  To my right was a mass of wooded vegetation.  But there was a path that we could follow into the brush.  Together we climbed over thick plant and tree debris and roots.  We finally arrived at an area where there were bricks strewn all over the ground.  A look around brought us to an old water well, which was a sure sign there had once been homes there.  Another sure sign of a past residence was the presence of fruit trees.  We found apple and cherry trees mixed in the wooded vegetation.  There were also berry bushes.  It was sad that the past of Haugen was so buried away from what must once have been a very pretty place, but I was very excited to be there, at the birthplace of my name.  I kept one of the small green apples from a tree as a souvenir.

The view from Haugen today
Haugen descendants searching for their past
A water well
Bricks on the ground
Apples from the Haugen apple tree
After visiting Haugen, we drove over to Vesten, a little community on the Glomma River that once was very important to the timber industry.  My ggg-grandparents, Anders Pettersen and Anne Kristine Simensdatter, raised their family there, and their daughter, Nicoline Andersdatter (my gg-grandmother) was their first child born there.  Nicoline married my gg-grandfather Ludvig Hansen, who had arrived from Rolvsøy to work the timber.  He also seems to have been a seaman for a period of time.  They had a large brood of Ludvigsen children, and one of them was my g-grandmother, Jørgine Amalie Ludvigsdatter, who married Thomas Alexius Haugen, son to Emil and Hanna Haugen -- both of whom I mentioned earlier with regard to Haugen.

The house in Vesten built by my gg-grandfather, Ludvig Hansen
 circa 1896
My g-grandmother Jørgine wrote a beautiful poem about her childhood, and in it she tells how she lived with her grandparents and loved to watch her grandfather build boats.  She also liked to go down to the river and watch the men work the timber.  Eventually, her family was growing too big, and her father went up the hill to build his own house.  I am happy to say, I was able to see this house, which only recently left the family.  The house has to have been built in the 1890s.  Of course, I was also curious to see if down the hill I could find the house where my g-grandmother's grandparents lived.  The historian who lives in Vesten that I mentioned before had pointed out the house he thought may have belonged to the grandparents.  When I saw it, I was pretty excited because it was in fact old enough to be the likely house.  Below the home was another building that could easily have been a workshop.  Beside the building was enough room to work on a boat.  I could picture g-grandmother Jørgine watching her grandfather shape wood for a sailing vessel, or a rowboat perhaps.  Overall, this was a very exciting visit.

Probably the house of my ggg-grandparents, Anders Pettersen and
Anne Kristine Simensdatter

The workshop and possible boat building area beside it

In Vesten, the river was once filled with timber logs
After visiting Vesten, we had lunch and said goodbye to one of my father's cousins.  With his other cousin and her husband, we headed out to see Fredriksten in Halden.  This Norwegian fortress was constructed in the 17th century as a replacement for the border fortress at Bohus, which had been lost when the province of Bohuslän was ceded to Sweden by the terms of the Treaty of Roskilde in 1658 (see Wikipedia). The fortress was named after King Fredrik III of Denmark and Norway, and the town of Halden was also originally named after him, having been known as Fredrikshald between 1665 and 1928 (Wikipedia). 

A view of Fredriksten in Halden
I was very interested in finding the old monument commemorating the death of Charles XII. According to Wikipedia, in the fall of 1718, Charles attacked Norway, intending to first capture Halden to be able to sustain a siege of Akershus. The Swedish trenches had almost reached the main fortification walls when a bullet struck and killed Charles XII while he inspected the work. The death of the king ended the war. The memorial is located in the park where the Swedish king fell, just in front of the fortress.  I really wanted to see this monument because I had an old picture from the late 1920s where my grandmother and her two sisters are standing in front of this monument. But when I saw the monument, it looked nothing like the one in my grandmother's picture.  As it turns out, the monument had been changed 7 times, and it had also been moved as the historians changed their minds about where the king exactly died.  The monument that is there today has been there since 1938.  The picture of the monument in the late 1920s in some ways looks more interesting to me.

The Charles XII monument today (since 1938)

The monument of Charles XII in the late 1920s
On our way back "home" from Fredriksten, we stopped in Drøbak, a very pretty town on the water.  An important event in Drøbak's history is the World War II sinking of the German cruiser Blücher. The ship was transporting German soldiers and bureaucrats for the planned occupation of Oslo, but the sinking by the Oscarsborg fortress delayed this, and thus allowed for the evacuation of the Norwegian Royal Family, parliament, and cabinet, and for the nation's gold reserves to be denied the occupiers (Wikipedia).  We visited the memorial, which is the ship's anchor, and also walked around the town.  One other interesting place was Santa's post office filled with letters from around the world.

Drøbak Harbor

The famous anchor representing the sinking of the German cruiser
Blücher during WWII

Letters on the wall of Santa's post office

I have been behind on my postings regarding my trip because I have since returned home and things have been a bit hectic.  Thank you all for your patience as I continue to post the last few wonderful days I spent in this wonderful country of Norway.  Every day I carry its beauty in my heart.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sweden on Day 8

On Day 8, we set out for Sweden to trace the path of my ggg-grandparents on my paternal grandfather's line.  My ggg-grandmother, Oleane Jakobsdatter (sometimes known as Akoline), emigrated from Sweden to Norway with her mother in 1863.  For more on Oleane, click here (it is a 4-part biography series).  My ggg-grandfather, Samuel Andreasen, emigrated to Norway in 1869.  My last posting tells a little bit about him and his death at sea in 1875.

Thanks to a genealogist friend in Sweden, Yvonne Henricksen of the blog Swedish Thoughts, I was put in contact with an historian in the area of Sweden where these ancestors were from.  Margareta Aleviken would help me find some of the farms related to my ancestors and perhaps a cottage, if it still existed.  We made an appointment to meet at 11:00 AM in the parking lot of the church in Grebbestad, Sweden.  My father still was not feeling up to a drive, especially to Sweden, which rendered the day a little disappointing; but I was still very excited to set off that morning with my mother, son, and father's friend.  When we hit the border of Sweden, leaving Norway behind, I felt so happy to have made the journey in Oleane and Samuel's footsteps.  Many things crossed my mind as I watched the sometimes hilly terrain become steep or filled by a lake.  After two hours driving, I realized that in the 1860s it could not have been an easy task to emigrate to Norway without a car.  Did they walk the entire treacherous way?  Did they take a boat?  I know money must have been an issue, so I am guessing a great deal of walking occurred for many leaving this part of Sweden for better opportunities in the Fredrikstad area of Norway.

We arrived at the Grebbestad Church, which was open, and took a look inside.  I knew this was not the church that had baptized my ggg-grandparents, but it was still interesting to see.  I also met the relative I had mentioned on my post about Kongsberg.  My ggg-grandmother Oleane is his g-grandmother.  He came with his wife and their dog and were very excited to share in my journey into our Swedish past.  It wasn't too long before Margareta showed up with her sister-in-law; her name was also Margareta.  After greetings and introductions, we followed our family history tour-guides to the first site, and what a treat this was!

The cottage where my ggg-grandfather Samuel Andreasson was
born in 1841
My gggg-grandfather Andreas Pettersson was a soldier for the Royal Swedish Army.  In Sweden, the military was a lifelong career, and each soldier required a unique name.  In return for service, a soldier was given a croft that included a cottage and some land, and the soldier carried the name of the croft as his surname.  My gggg-grandfather's soldier name was Andreas Rörberg.  All his children also carried the Rörberg surname while he served.  My ggg-grandfather, therefore, was Samuel Andreasson Rörberg at his birth in 1841.  And the cottage of his birth still existed in Rörvik!  This was so exciting to find out from the two Margareta angels of genealogy.  After my gggg-grandfather retired from the military in 1860 after 31 years of service, he lost the Rörberg name, and a new soldier moved into the croft cottage assuming the name.  Margareta had found the descendants of the new Rörberg soldier who moved there, and the family still had pictures of the old cottage from the 1860s or 1870s!  And when Margareta brought me to see it, I could see it was the same cottage, except it was now painted white and there were new windows.  Margareta told me that the new owners had decided to soon paint it red once again. 

Westra Ertseröd, my ggg-grandfather's last residence before
emigrating to Norway
Margareta planned for us to follow a logical course of farms in the order of appearance on the map we would follow.  The next stop was Westra Ertseröd, which is where my ggg-grandfather Samuel emigrated from to go to Norway in 1869.  I had also recently found out, thanks to Yvonne Henricksen, that his widowed mother had also emigrated from there to Norway a year later.  The structures on the land were surely not the same, but the farm was all I really wanted to see.  From there we saw Nästegård, which was the birthplace of Samuel's father, Andreas Pettersson, and then we moved on to Vyk.  Vyk Farm is where my ggg-grandmother Oleane's mother, Helena Magnusdotter, was born in 1819.  This ended up being an interesting site even without a cottage.  We found stones on the ground that were likely a foundation of the cottage, and it was located near the horse "garden."  In fact, at Helena's birth, the home is called "the garden."  After spending a good deal of time exploring the area, we moved on to Hala where Helena lived as a young girl.  There was a structure that looked very old, but the owner came out and told us it was not as old as it looked.  All in all, it was nice to see the location of my gggg-grandmother's childhood home. 

I point to the spot where the cottage and birthplace of my
ggg-grandmother, Oleane Jakobsdotter, once stood
The next stop was Rungstung Farm, and more specifically Hällevadet, where Oleane was born in 1850.  As you may have read on a previous biography post on Oleane, the circumstances of her birth were a bit mysterious.  The baptismal record says that her mother, Helena, was engaged to Johan Jakob Ruth (a soldier; Ruth was his soldier name) but that Oleane was fathered by another man.  Helena and Johan did have two other biological children together before Oleane.  Margareta had looked into some more Swedish records, and she was able to clear up the mystery a little.  She said that Helena and Johan had declared their intention to marry three times in church, as was the custom of the day, but they had never completed the final act of marriage.  She explained to me, though, that three declarations in the eyes of many was nearly the same as being married.  However, Johan Jakob Ruth is shown to have gone off to war around 1848 or 1849.  The record does not say what war, but I believe it was the First Schleswig War.  The First Schleswig War or Three Years' War was a military conflict in southern Denmark and northern Germany regarding control of the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. The war, which lasted from 1848–1851, also involved troops from Prussia and Sweden.  The time period fits perfectly.  So my guess is that while Johan was away, Helena had an affair with Oleane's biological father, and Johan Jakob Ruth came home to a surprise addition to the family.  It seems, though, that he accepted Oleane.  They lived together for a few years, and Oleane used his name as her father for the rest of her life.  Of course, she may not have known the circumastances of her own birth.  But eventually Johan and Helena did leave each other and Johan married another woman.  When he left the military, another soldier took over the croft and cottage and was named Ruth.  This man's grandson still lived on the same plot of land and was able to tell the historian exactly where the cottage once was; it was great to see it, even if there was nothing to see! 

As for my ggg-grandmother, Oleane, once Johan and Helena separated, she moved to Håkebytorp while her mother seems to have wandered between places, such as the church's priest quarters and a farm called Lycke.  She is also listed on the "vagrant" pages, perhaps because she was not settled in any particular place.  Then, in 1863, she and her thirteen year old daughter, Oleane, left Sweden for Norway.  I should add that before leaving Sweden myself, we saw Håkebytorp -- Oleane's last residence in Sweden. 

The church where my ggg-grandparents, Oleane and Samuel,
were baptized.  Samuel was also confirmed here.
Once we said a million "thank yous" and a final goodbye to the fabulous historians who helped us trace my Swedish roots, we set off for the Tanum Church in Tanumshede to see where my ggg-grandparents had been baptized and then headed for the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Bronze age rock carvings.  The carvings were left there 3000 years ago, and I couldn't help wonder if one of my ancestors from the area was responsible.  We hiked a bit in the hills and found the ancient burial mounds, too.  What a sight!  When we had had enough, we returned to the car and drove back toward Norway.  On the way, we stopped in Strömstad, a lovely town on the sea, and likely the place my ggg-grandfather Samuel Andreasson signed up to become a seaman in 1859.  Strangely, when we crossed the border from Sweden to Norway, an hour later, I felt that "I'm back home" feeling.  I guess my roots in Sweden are still too new to me and not quite as strong as my Norwegian roots; Norway is, after all, a place I have known my whole life and where the greater part of my ancestral tree branches are from.  But I am very proud to also be Swedish!

A small section of the amazing bronze-age Tanumshede rock carvings

Beautiful Strömstad by the sea...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Norway, Days 6 and 7

On Day 6, we started our excursions outside of the Oslo area.  We were to stay with a high school friend of my father's, and it ended up being really nice.  They don't live too far from the Fredrikstad area, so it was logical to move from my uncle's house for a few days.  But first, we went to Kongsberg, in the county of Buskerud, to visit some relatives there and follow the trail of my gg-grandfather, Emil Georg Samuelsen Haugen.  This means I am following the family history line on my paternal grandfather's side.
The altar and organ in the famous Kongsberg church

A typical street in Kongsberg

Kongsberg was founded in 1624, after silver was discovered in the hills. The Danish-Norwegian king recruited German miners to the mines. Silver is no longer mined there, and it has become a high-tech center of Norway.  The town has some quaint-looking streets and a baroque-style Lutheran church that is very much worth a visit.  It was truly impressive.  Someone was playing the rare and beautiful organ when we arrived, which lent the place even more atmosphere.  The church was built with a hierchiacal system: the king had his own box, the silver mine nobility and administrators had their boxes, and the miners sat upstairs on hard, wooden benches.  Keep in mind that they had worked hard all week and now had to sit through a three hour sermon.  If someone fell asleep, an usher with a long stick would reach into the pews and poke him.

The main reason to visit Kongsberg, though, was to see my grandfather's cousin and her daughter's family.  We were welcomed to the daughter's home, and I also found there another relation I had met over the internet.  His great-grandmother is my ggg-grandmother, and we have shared a lot of information with each other.  My grandfather's cousin, unfortunately, could not be there, but her daughter left a note and gift for me.  The gift was my gg-grandfather Emil's songbook and a notebook he had written his thoughts on regarding Bible study.  It was so wonderful to see his beautiful handwriting.  I don't believe he was overly educated, yet his penmanship was perfect.  I commented on his writing, and I was told a story about his father, Samuel -- he couldn't afford the appropriate writing materials and learned to write in the dirt and saw dust with a stick.  Amazing!  After this, we were led inside to see my ggg-grandfather Samuel's sea chest.  Again, this would be the father of the man I just described who had beautiful penmanship.  My ggg-grandfather had gone out to sea, in 1875, when my gg-grandfather was a young boy, and had an accident that killed him.  His sea chest returned to his wife and my gg-grandfather, who was 4 at the time. 

The chest was absolutely gorgeous!  It was made of solid wood and painted green.  On the inside of the lid were the union flags of Sweden and Norway, since the two countries were a union at the time.  My ggg-grandfather's name is inscribed and the date of 1861.  What can I say?  It was so beautiful to see I was nearly speechless.  The only thing wrong with it was that it wasn't mine (ha ha).  But I am very glad that it is kept in the family and taken care of. 

My ggg-grandfather Samuel Andreasen's sea chest.  He was born in 1841 and died at sea in 1875.  Below, you can see the flags of the Swedish and Norwegian union and my ggg-grandfather's name and the year, 1861.

My gg-grandparents' grave in Kongsberg
We were also taken to the cemetery to see the graves of my gg-grandfather Emil and gg-grandmother Hanna.  It was so nice to see it still exists, although the cemetery is quite old and a lot of tech companies have been built around it.  We took a few pictures of the headstone before heading to the location of their house.  Apparently, when my gg-grandfather died (he died after his wife), the landowner destroyed the home and sawmill that was there.  However, nothing else was built in its place, so I could still find bits of concrete on the ground.  It was a nice location, not far from the river.  My father, who was lucky to know Emil (g-grandfather to him) until he was about 16 years old, remembered the place very well. 

After some coffee and sweets with my Kongsberg relatives, we said good-bye and headed out to Ås, where my father's friend lives and the place we were sleeping at for the next few nights.  On the way, we stopped by Åsgårdstrand, which is where Norway's most famous painter, Edvard Munch, lived during the summers and painted some of his most famous work.  The town was very picturesque and lovely.  Unfortunately, the painter's house was not open for tourists on that day, but I saw it once in 1988.  One cute feature of the town was the mailboxes with his works painted on them.

Edvard Munch's summer cottage.  Below, some typical scenes in Åsgårdstrand.

Old town Fredrikstad -- 5 stars!!

On Day 7, my father woke up not feeling very well, so I set out with my son and father's friend to meet my father's cousins and my uncle in the old town of Fredrikstad.  The old fortified town is really lovely, and I have a gggg-grandfather who served there. My grandfather served there as well during the early 1930s.  Fredrikstad may be Europe's best preserved fortified town, and it is in Østfold County and was founded in 1567 by King Frederik II.  The city lies on the banks of the river Glomma.  Fredrikstad once had a large sawmill industry and was important for timber export and shipbuilding.  Most of my ancestors from this area worked in these fields. 

After visiting the old town, we headed for the first Methodist church built in Fredrikstad circa 1868.  I was meeting an historian there, who very kindly offered to show me the church and some records.  I have blogged before about finding dissenters among my ancestors -- people who left the Lutheran church.  In this case, my ggg-grandparents, Oleane Jakobsdatter and Samuel Andreasen, both joined the Methodist church in February of 1871 and baptized my gg-grandfather, Emil, there in September of 1871.  This event was one of my early family history brick walls I managed to break down. 

This is just part of my ggg-grandfather's death record.
It says he drowned at sea.
The church had been renovated on the inside, but it was still the same church on the outside.  Inside, there was a wall of pictures of all the pastors since the beginning -- one of them being the one who baptized Oleane, Samuel, and their son Emil into the church.  I was also finally able to see the death record for my ggg-grandfather Samuel, since most Methodist records are not available online.  The story from my gg-grandfather was that his father had fallen off the ship's mast after climbing it to fix the sails and was killed instantly.  The Methodist record said he had died on June 3rd, 1875 by drowning at sea.  I believe this probably indicated he was buried at sea, but it could be that my gg-grandfather's story was incorrect.  I hoped I could find his seaman record at the archives in Oslo in a few days.  I will let you know what I found when I post for that day!

After the nice visit at the Methodist church, we were invited back to my father's cousin's house where she served us her "ancestry soup."  It was a beef stew -- a traditional Norwegian dish --  and it was really delicious.  Her brother had brought a lot of old pictures of ancestors and some items to see.  He showed me my gg-grandfather's walking stick, which had a silver plated engraving of his name on it.  There were also two old Bible-study books that had belonged to my gg-grandfather, and he kindly gave those to me!  As for all the old pictures, they were scanned.  They are a true treasure as they include pictures of ggg-grandparents for me.  One of my favorite goals in my family history research is to find pictures of the people I study.  So this was all very special to me.

My gg-grandfather's walking cane!
Finally, we said goodbye and planned our next venture for two days from then.  My father's friend then took us to see the Hvaler islands before heading back to his home and some much-needed rest. 

Stay tuned for Day 8 and 9!