Thursday, September 30, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday -- GG-Grandfather's Cane

When I was in Norway this summer, I met with several relatives, and many had pictures or objects that had belonged to our ancestors.  Here is my gg-grandfather Emil Samuelsen Haugen's cane.  This treasure isn't mine, but I took a few nice pictures of it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Basics of Italian Genealogy Research

The LDS familysearch Web site is an essential "add" to the genealogist's "favorites" list of links.  Here, I want to highlight one very nice feature, which is the "online classes" available for viewing from the comfort of your computer. 

Below is a link to a nice video that teaches about Italian records research.  It is very informative and easy to follow -- you will learn about records that are available for order from the family history library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and how to search for your ancestors.  Several topics are discussed in detail, including Italian birth, marriage, and death records, as well as military records. To view the video go to:

Tombstone Tuesday -- Giuseppa Napoli

My grandmother, Giuseppa Napoli, born in Catania, Sicily.  Her father
was Pasquale Ursino and her mother was Francesca Scuderi.  She
liked to be called Pina and hated Giuseppa.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hellebæk Sawmill in Kongsberg, Norway

Click on picture for better viewing.
     I received an email from a relative I met in Norway this past summer.  Enclosed was this picture he had dug up with a friend who has access to old pictures of Kongsberg, Norway.  It is a bit hard to see unless the photo is enlarged, but on the left is a sawmill where my great-great grandfather, Emil Georg Samuelsen Haugen, worked.  The house he shared with my gg-grandmother, Hanna Marie Andreasdatter, is behind it (not visible).  There is another sawmill that is close-up, on the right.  Both sawmills are on the other side of river Lågen.  The one on the right (closer sawmill) is Kongsberg Dampsag, and on the left is Hellebæk, where Emil worked. 

     The picture is from the early twenties, and one can see the Kjerrat, a bridge where the timber was transported from the river into the sawmill. There is also a narrow road going north, behind the Sawmill.  As I indicated earlier, the house of Emil and Hanna was on the right side of that road, and therefore hidden behind the sawmill building. 

Thank you, Odd, for sharing!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday -- Giuseppa Napoli and Sister

My grandmother, Giuseppa Napoli (1914 - 1998) and her sister
Angelina.  My grandmother is the younger of the two. 
She was born in Catania, Sicily.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday

My son plants flowers at my grandparents' grave in Baerum, Norway (Bryn Church)
Gyda Kristiansen 1913 -2002
Thorolf Haugen 1914 - 1981

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Progen Study Group -- Month 1

Today, I met with 11 other professional and aspiring professional genealogists in my Progen course.  This class is 18 months long with about 6-10 hours of homework a month and one online meeting a month. To learn more about the program, you can check out the site:  The great thing about the course is that it's free, with the exception of the text book (see picture) and a $30 fee for access to the Progen database, which holds messages, files, assignments, and the chat room. 

The book we are studying and discussing is Professional Genealogy: a Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians, edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills.  The chapters we read for this month were:

•Chapter 1 – Defining Professionalism by Donn Devine, J.D., CG, CGI
•Chapter 5 – Ethical Standards by Neil D. Thompson, LL.B., Ph.D., CG, FASG

We also had two assignments to complete, which will undergo peer review.  In other words, I have to review the assignments of the others, and they review mine. This month I have to write a mission statement and a genealogy resume.  I have completed these assignments, although they aren't due until the end of the month. I found writing both of these very useful for defining my focus area and experience, and I can see more clearly what I need to work on, too.

I will continue to post on this course monthly.  Thanks for tuning in!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Genealogy Goals for the Fall

Tina Lyons (her blog) posted her genealogy goals for the fall.  Good idea, Tina.  Here are mine:

1) Scan, scan, scan. I still have so much to scan.
2) Organize, organize, organize.
3) Work on my Italian line.  I have ordered a bunch of microfilms from the Family History Library, which should arrive any day now.
4) Order more Italian records when I am finished with this batch.
5) Write/order documents from Italian municipal buildings in Catania, Palagonia, and Mineo.
6) Continue sourcing my Norwegian line.
7) Develop another genealogy Web site I have had in mind.
8) Work hard on my 18 month Progen (Professional Genealogy) course. I am so excited about this course!
9) Try and make it to a genealogy conference or expo of some kind. I think there is one in Atlanta soon.
10) If I find the money, take a trip to the Salt Lake City Family History Library (this is not likely to happen, but I can dream:).
11) Work on my Norwegian family history book.
12) Continue to pursue descendants of common ancestors/relatives and share information and pictures.
13) Convert tapes of my Italian grandmother telling stories (from the 70s and early 80s) to CD, and see if a major noise reduction is achievable.
14) Finish transcribing my Italian grandfather's diary (written in 1915 when he was 15 years old) into computer text, and also translate it into English (this may take a while).
15) Update my files with the information I learned during my trip to Norway this summer.
16) Develop my genealogy library, and read more books.
17) Oh, there is more to do, but I will stop here.

What is your list?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday -- Vincenzo Dibennardo (Di Bennardo)

My uncle in Sicily sent me a picture of my grandfather's grave.  It is a little
cut off, but the grave is very high up on the wall (as I recall), and one has to climb
a ladder to see it.  His grave is in the cemetery of Catania, Sicily.  He was born
in Palagonia, a town in the province of Catania, and died in the city of Catania.
Here's to you, Nonno!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Norway, Days 13, 14, and 15

On Day 13, we set out on a two-day non-genealogical tour.  However, for all I know my ancestors visited or lived in the areas we were to visit.  My father really wanted me to see Western Norway, which has some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world.  All my life I have visited the Oslo area and not ventured far from there, so this was going to be a real treat.  So, early that morning, we headed to Luster on the Sognefjord, where we had reserved a cabin.  HINT: cabins are the economical way to see Norway.  They are located in campgrounds, but can be very nice with all the amenities included.

One of many pretty views on the way to Borgund Stave Church
Borgund Stave Church
On the way, we stopped to see the Borgund Stave Church located in Borgund, Lærdal, Norway. It is one of only 28 stave churches remaining today and one of the best preserved.  A stave church is a medieval wooden church; these churches were Catholic before Lutheranism came to Norway. All of the surviving stave churches are in Norway, with the exception of one in Sweden and one Norwegian stave that was relocated in 1842 to the outskirts of Krummhübel, Germany, now Karpacz in the Krkonoše mountains of Poland (Wikipedia).

After a lovely drive, through some of the prettiest country I have ever seen, we arrived in Luster.  The cabin we rented was right on the fjord, which was one giant mirror to the surrounding mountain landscape.  The weather was perfect -- not too cold or hot -- and the sun shone through the occasional cloud.  I went down by the water where there was a bench, and I thought this would be the perfect place to learn to meditate or find peace in your life. 

Views from our cabin in Luster

One very nice surprise was the Dale stone church that was built in Gothic style in the year 1250.  It was open to the public during evening hours, and what a treat.  It was absolutely gorgeous, and, recently, wall drawings dating back to before the Reformation were found during renovation.  Some may even go back to the 12th century. 

Dale Church in Luster

Artwork dating to before the Reformation

The altar in Dale Church
In the high country, on the way to Geiranger.  Notice the
glacier in the background.

After a nice night in Luster, we started the 3 hour drive to Geiranger, Norway.  The route would take us through the beautiful Jotunheimen mountain region. Luckily, the weather was great, which allowed for spectacular views of the Norwegian fjord country. We also drove down the Boeverdal and pass just below Galdhoepiggen, the tallest mountain in Norway.  And when we arrived at the overlook that showed us the beauty of Geiranger below, it was like being in a fairytale because it was almost too beautiful to be real. In fact, it is so exceptionally beautiful that it is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Geirangerfjord is located in the southwestern part of the county of Møre og Romsdal, north in Fjord Norway, approximately 100 kilometres from the town of Ålesund.
My Dad poses with Geiranger below him

After taking several pictures from above Geirangerfjord, we drove down through the town and looked for the campground where we had rented a cabin.  The cabin had two bedrooms, a living area, a kitchenette, and a lovely view of the fjord.  We could sit on the porch and watch the boats and ships go by.  Later, we went to town and walked around.  It was really cute and filled with tourists, especially since there was a cruise ship parked on the water in front of the town.  After shopping for some dinner, we headed back to the cabin to cook it.  The plan was to rent a boat after dinner, but, unfortunately, the sun gave in to rain clouds, and by the time it passed, it was too late.  But my son and I went and played ping pong for a while before observing a beautiful sunset and turning in for the night.
Sunset view from our Cabin... circa 11:00 pm

The cabin...
The next day, we had to say goodbye to Geiranger and take the route toward Oslo and our return to the United States.  Again, the scenery was lovely -- waterfalls, rivers, lakes, mountains.  I was particularly enthralled by the glacier blue color of the rivers.  The water everywhere looked like a child had picked out a turquoise crayon out of the box and colored it into the landscape, which had somehow magically turned into reality.  

The blue color of the water looked like it came from a crayon box

From the moment we arrived in Norway, striking scenery played before our eyes.  But I have to say, the two days I spent in Western Norway, taking in the aqua-blue color of the fjords and rivers, rocky cliffs with spouting waterfalls, and the dark green vegetation surrounding primary-colored houses dotting the landscape were simply stunning.  And when you have a family history belonging here, it is even more special.
Thanks for taking the journey with me through my blog!  Unfortunately, I could not post all my adventures in Norway, but I plan to sprinkle my blog every so often with a lovely picture from this trip -- perhaps Treasure Chest Thursday would work.  This trip was truly a treasure to me.