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!


  1. What an exciting trip and what great memories you will have of this trip - family, great food, wonderful sights.

  2. Hi Astrid, how is it going on your trip? It's great fun to read about what you see and experience. I agree with you, it's incredibly exciting and special to see old photographs of people in the family...! I wish you have a wonderful time on your trip!

  3. I found your blog through Greta Koehl's, and I'm SO glad I did. Many of my ancestors came from Norway, and I would love to make this trip. I'm enjoying your travelogue tremendously!

  4. Thank you all for the kind comments. I appreciate it very much! I just returned, but I am behind on my posts, so I will continue to post travel posts for the next few days! Thanks again!