Friday, August 6, 2010

Norway, Days 4 and 5

On day 4, I woke up to the sound of the Lomma River that flows in front of what once was my grandparents’ home – also known as Lommeli. It is a soothing sound – faithful and strong. That’s how I hear it, anyway. Every day they have forecasted rain, but we have been pretty lucky. It has generally been partly cloudy skies and the occasional sprinkle since we arrived. The temperature fluctuates in the high 60’s and low 70s, but it has felt a lot warmer at times, especially when the sun is shining. It hasn’t been very windy, so this has contributed to it not feeling as cool as the thermostat says. Also, the low temperature during the night is only about 10 degrees F less than the high. Where I come from in the U.S. there is a lot of difference between day and night temperatures.

I was rather excited on this morning because it was the day I would be meeting some descendants of a common ancestor. I had found descendants of a great-uncle who had gone to Canada, and they had maintained contact with the family of my great-uncle’s sister. Both of them are siblings to my great-grandfather Kristian Olausen Jordbaerhaugen. So, strangely enough, through Canada, we met this branch of family in Norway. As it turns out, they knew my grandparents quite well.

I spent most of the day preparing for my meeting with them by creating a large poster of a pedigree starting with my great-grandfather’s sister, Margit Olausen Jordbaerhaugen who had married Helge Hansen Bakken. I also gathered some documents this branch may be interested in, such as birth, confirmation, and marriage records for my great-great grandparents and their daughter, Margit, from whom they descend.

Margit Olausen Jordbaerhaugen Bakken, born in 1895
When we arrived at Sleasjulet, as the farmhouse is called, the family came out to greet us. There was my great-aunt’s son and his wife and daughter, and he had also invited his two brothers and their wives for the event. The oldest brother was born around 1921, and they were so kind and happy to meet with us. I should say that their mother Margit was the next-to-last child of my great-great grandparents. Whereas my great-grandfather was born around 1878, his sister Margit was born in 1895.

We met with descendants of my great-grandfather's sister, Margit
Olausen Jordbaerhaugen Bakken
Inside the house, we sat to a wonderful Scandinavian coffee-time display. There were the typical open-face sandwiches, beautifully put together. Unfortunately, I only remembered to take a picture of the tray after sandwiches had been picked. There were several wonderful cakes, too, and coffee, of course! We talked about several things, but we then started to compare family history notes. One interesting event is the connection I was able to make for them to Salt Lake City. From Margit, they had inherited a photo album, and in the album was a picture of three children that had been taken in Salt Lake City. They had had no idea where it came from, but through my research I had discovered that my great-great grandmother (mother to their Margit) had three siblings and her own mother convert to Mormonism and go to Salt Lake City. The picture of the three children matched another I had that must have been taken on the same day because the clothing and props were the same; but the picture I had acquired from a descendant in Salt Lake City included the children’s parents Martin Christopherson and Jennet Ledingham. The three children in the picture located here in Norway were Janet, Martin Einor, and Willard. The family picture from SLC also included the baby George, so I was able to date the picture to about 1886. This was extremely exciting. I believe that Martin must have sent it to his sister, Jonette, my gg-grandmother, or perhaps he gave her the picture personally during a visit on one of his missions to Norway. Her daughter Margit ended up with the picture, but the story of her uncles, an aunt, and her own grandmother in Utah got lost with her descendants.

The picture belonging to Margit's descendants in Norway: Martin Einor, Janet Jessie, and Willard Alexander Christopherson --
children of Martin Christopherson in Salt Lake City.

Below is the picture I obtained from a descendant of Martin Christopherson in Salt Lake City.  The photographer and props are the same.  I believe the photos were taken on the same day.  In the photo: Janet, Martin (father), Willard, Martin Einor, Janet (mother), and George.  Judging by the baby's age, the photos were taken in 1886.

The Bakken family had several other old pictures I was interested in, and so I was able to get scans of all of them as well. Afterward, we talked some more and looked at the pedigree we had brought to their home and then said goodbye. We had a lovely time!

The 800 year old Tanum church in Baerum, where many
of my ancestors were baptized, confirmed, and married... 
On Day 5, we went to visit the old Tanum Church, which was built about 800 years ago and where many of my ancestors were baptized, confirmed, and married. The church was closed, but I plan to go next Sunday when there is a service to see if I can get inside. We walked around the graveyard, and there are a few really old graves, but not too many. In Norway, graves eventually disappear, unless the family wants it to stay and pays some kind of a leasing fee. This graveyard is particularly beautiful; I love the flowers, the rustic looking headstones, and the view of Oslo.

After Tanum Church, we headed over to the Bryn Church. This church is from the mid-1800s, and many of my ancestors switched to this church because of its proximity to where they all lived in Lommedalen. On the way, though, I stopped at the Loeken farm, where my ggg-grandmother Ellen Hansen Christophersen was from, and I took some pictures of what it looks like today. Then we stopped at Bryn farm, which is also an important ancestral farm for my Christopherson line. After taking pictures, I went to the nursery there and bought some flowers to bring to my grandparents’ grave and also my great-grandparents’ grave. In Norway, they don’t use cut flowers, but plant flowering plants in the ground.

... after planting some flowers at my great-grandparents' grave...
and below, my grandparents' grave

When we arrived at the Bryn Graveyard, I met another common descendant of my gg-grandmother's. We had met over the internet because I found her family tree. She showed me her family graves, in particular the son of my gg-grandparents whom she descends from. I also showed her my family graves. We planted some flowers and took some pictures. It was also the first time I saw my grandmother's grave in person, which was quite emotional for me.  Overall, I would have stayed and hunted for some other graves, but we needed to return to my uncle’s home. I hope to go back before I leave Norway and see what other graves I may find.

That evening, we were invited to dinner with some friends of my parents’. One of them was my father’s high school friend. They were very nice, well-travelled, and had some great stories to tell. For my son, it was exciting because there was a ping-pong table in the house. We had a phenomenal dinner starting with a large crab similar to Alaskan King Crab and followed by Baccalao, a fish stew made from dried cod. They use it a lot in Spain and Italy, and when it is made right, it is really delicious.

I have been having a hard time getting to a computer to post, so I have accumulated too much information. I will stop here and try to post more of my trip tomorrow. I hope my ramblings have not been too long for a blog post!
A typically beautiful Norwegian dinner table!!!


  1. I am enjoying your posts of your trip. I am hoping to spend some time in Norway and Sweden next year. My GGGrandmother was Kersti Pedersdatter Bakken,b. 1834, so far that is the closest I have found to any connection via your blog.cI keep watching.

  2. It was great to meet you in Statsarkivet/Riksarkivet, Astrid, also to meet your family! Maybe we'll see you in FL around Christmas? That would be something!

  3. Do you think the Sons of Norway would help me find my ancestry? When my parents died, the estate attorneys and executor having no regards for the past and what my mother had kept of relatives address and photo's merely ending what I hoped to begin a journey into heritage for myself and children My grandfather came from Norway they have my great grandfather listed as Alexander Christoferson my grandfather Carl was the first to America/ I am not sure how to go about looking this up myself my email now is