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.


  1. I can't believe you found the actual houses! I had goosebumps just reading that. Amazing work!

  2. Thank you, Kerry. It is so good if you can know people who live in the exact area of your ancestors because you never know what they know. If you have relatives who live there, then even better. Of course, there are the property records, too, but it is so much more fun talking to people. One thing I learned in Norway and Sweden is that people didn't mind if you stared at their house; they'd come out and then we'd tell them who used to live there and that would start off a conversation. Anyway, I saw your web site. Very nice!

  3. What a wonderful adventure for you and your family! Thanks for sharing it with us.

  4. What a beautiful story about finding your family's home, and you told it so well. I felt I was there! The pictures are great.

  5. Hi, you've really got to experience very interesting things and had many memorable moments! ..and you write about them so we can share them with you! Thank you! Have a nice time!