Stories from Norway…

Here is the first page of the bydebøk that starts the
journey into my Amundsen family line.

One day last fall I spent a few hours online trying to find a way to purchase the bygdebøker for Ullensvang in Norway. This is where Amund Amundson came from. I had looked at these books while in Salt Lake City, but I wanted my own set to mark up to my hearts content, and because I am unable to interlibrary loan them. (So started a crazy, and expensive, process that finally ended two weeks ago–but that’s not important now.)

Anyway, I found a museum in Norway that I could purchase the books from, and the two volumes arrived after Christmas. Added incentive for my purchasing the books from the museum was that they would also send me a .pdf file of the english translation of the books. No surprise to anyone that knows me, but I don’t speak, write, or understand Norwegian. In no time at all I was carefully going through the two volumes and entering data into my family tree.

It took a good week, but I have finally filled out the family tree on Amund’s side. Now, I didn’t willy-nilly accept the data from the books, because that would be foolish. Once I had all the information entered into my database I proceeded to find the original vital records to confirm and compare. I have to say that these particular volumes of bygdebøker, are very accurate when compared to the original source material. I found very few errors, and those found were minor date issues.

Not only do the bygdebøker give information on: who is living on the farm, who married who, when were folks were born or died etc.; they also share bits of history that are known about the families and the farms. So that is what I will am sharing today. In no particular order.

  • Around 1650 while celebrating at a christening feast in Jåstad, Samson Aslakson of Åse was stabbed to death by an easterling[?]. (I have no idea if the term is correct or just translated improperly). Possibly a little too much partying. He left a widow, Guro Oldsdatter, and three children of whom Ola Samsonson is our ancestor. 
  • Sjur Ivarson is believed to have said, when his future wife, Marita Olsdatter, was carried to her baptism, about 1763, “There they come with she who shall be my wife.” She was 20 years younger than him. But true to his word when she came of age, he came a-courting. But apparently he was taking a bit too long to come to the point so Marita gave him a little push. “And I have never regretted it.” she said later, “I have been as lucky as a person can be.” Sjur in his youth served at Captain Knagenhjelm’s at Helleland, where he became interested in the fruit cultivation industry and proceeded to become a pioneer in business. 
  • Helga Simonsdatter, born around 1658, was known as “beautiful Helga.” She was the last “light girl” where on St. Lucy’s Day, (in Scandinavia Lucy is called Lucia), she is represented as a woman in a white dress and red sash with a crown or wreath of candles on her head.
  • Erling Jonson, born in the mid to latter part of the 1500s, is believed to have made violins or fiddles. There was one in the Valdres Museum with the initials E.J.S., but it was destroyed in a fire.

Fiddles from Norway made in the 1600s, possibly like the one Erling is thought to have made.
  • Tore Olson, born 1695, was conscripted as a soldier in 1715. “Died in 1742. Killed by a rock.” (Sorry but this one makes me crack up every time I read it and I don’t know why. ‘Cause that ain’t really funny.) While reading through the little bits of history about Ullensvang it is apparent that rock slides and avalanches were, and maybe still, are a great hazard to the folks that lived in the area. 
Perhaps, in the spirit of romance, Tore or Sjur were part of a Norwegian ski-infantry during their military service.
(The Norwegian military has held skiing competitions since the 1670s. The sport of biathlon was developed from military skiing patrols.)
  • Anna Andersdatter is believed to have died giving birth to her 17th child. Only 3 lived to adulthood. 
  • Continuing Anna Andersdatter’s family, her son, Anders Pederson, was so big and strong he was known as “The Norwegian bear.” He is believed to have become a minister and died in the eastern counties of Norway at a young age. 
  • Brita Oddmundsdatter was born in the latter part of 1500s. According to family tradition, she was very strong and “manly,” she transported the lumber to Føynes herself when they started building there. 
  • Torkjell Person, born in 1638, was a real piece of work. He was summoned to court in 1664 for having mistreated his servant girl. First he whipped her, then he had her bound to a sled attached to a horse. He proceeded to jump on the horse and dragged the sled to the sea. In 1666 he was again in court for whipping Per Albrektson and kicking Per’s wife. Thankfully Torkjell died at the age of 30. One can only imagine how he treated his own family. 
  • And saving the best for last — Vigleik Oddson was “very foolish and simple-minded,” almost an idiot, as was his sister Begga Oddsdatter, both were born in the mid 1700s. They had a child together in 1773 and were brought to court for the crime of incest. The verdict was that they should be beheaded by sword. Thankfully, because the judge was aware that they were hardly fully compos mentis, the verdict was “referred to the King’s mercy.” The child was sent away and never heard from again. We do not know how things ended for Vigleik and Begga as they are never again mentioned in the local records.
Here is a lovely Norwegian embroidered bed carpet from the 1600s. Just ‘cuz.
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Amund Amundson

Ah yes, the second half of my Norwegian ancestral origins. Because official records can be wrong,  or memory can be elusive, Amund has proven to be a worthy opponent in this genealogical quest. You see some ancestors just don’t want to be found.

In the case of Amund, he was very closed mouthed and had an incredibly bad memory. He is first found in 1875 in the Minnesota State census with Jorgina, his wife and their eldest daughter Christine, who was just a few months old. In it his age is noted as 23, which means he was born in 1852 or 1853. In each successive censes after that he is born later and later until finally, the 1900 census. In this census one must provide month and year born, his entry has April 1852. Excellent. In 1905 he also continues to say born 1852. So now I am pretty sure of the year and I have a month.

Next I tried to find a naturalization record for him. The only Amund found close to the year born in the records for the State of Minnesota was an Amund born 1853 declaring his intent in Polk County. He had arrived at the port of Heuron in 1871.

I had issues with this record, birth year ‘wrong’. Year of immigration in the 1900 census indicated 1872, not 1871. And Polk County? Huh, what would my Amund be doing way up in Polk County. They lived in Goodhue County, Dodge County and then Carlton County, all way south and East in the State. Polk County is up north.

But, between 1880 and 1885 the Amundsons appear to have moved around a bit so maybe they headed up to Polk for work in that time period. In 1882 he applied for his intent.  So…possibly his, but so many dates off.

Thankfully, in 1902 Amund did apply for his final papers in Carlton County. They confirmed that the declaration I had previously obtained was the correct one for my Amund.  The 1900 census also confirms the naturalization papers as his because he indicated his papers were applied for and two years later he is a citizen. Census says he arrived in 1872, but final papers say June of 1871.

See my confusion.

Okay so now I have Amund Amundson arrived in US 1871, through Canada. Born in April of 1852 in Norway.

Ta da:

Parish register entry from Ullensvang, Hordaland, Norway

Here is a birth and baptismal record for an Ommund Ommundson, born April 20, 1852 baptized June 7. Parents Ommund Ommundson Maakestad and Kristi Larsdatter Aakre.

Well, sure you say, but there were probably lots of Amunds born in the country in the same year and month.  Ah yes, but this one’s father is Amund Amundson, which matches our Amund’s records. The mother is wrong according to our records, but I am not at all concerned about that, Jorgina’s mother was wrong in her US records too. So I would say this is a good match.

So the second thing I looked for was a ‘hey I am leaving Norway’ record. Yes they have those in Norway.

Ta da:

Here is the same Amund leaving Norway in April of 1871 for Quebec at the age of 19. Hmmm, quite a coincidence huh?

I have to say that I am fairly convinced by these records that our Amund hails from Hordaland, Norway, which is located right on top of Telemark.

With this information I have been able to go back only another generation or two for his line, the records in the parishes in Hordaland are not as thorough as those in Telemark.

It is not a done deal, but I am quite convinced that I have found the right Amund, and I will continue to pursue this line of questioning. An official church record of his marriage might clear the matter up. So anyway its back to the trenches.

Pay attention…

It’s not that I am unsure of the connection of Kari Jorgina Johnson to John Stianson and Kari Gunlichsdatter, the evidence and coincidences are too many to be in doubt, but in researching Jorgina and her family, I have yet to find a definitive document that specifically connects Jorgina Johnson Amundson to who I believe to be her parents. The marriage record and her death record both give a good record of a connection, but her father’s surname is hard to read and her mother’s name is wrong on her death record, and neither of her parents or Amund’s are listed on the marriage certificate, but her last name of Johnson helps push the connection to the yes category, as does the fact that her birth is the same as the Jorgina born in Norway to this family. When doing genealogical research the preponderance of the evidence is usually enough to prove a connection. So in order to cover all my bases, I am still looking for more evidence.

I have filled in most of the gaps of Jorgina’s sibling’s families using the Holden Church and online Norwegian records, and I was trying to think of another record that might help in that regard. That’s when I smacked myself on the head when I realized that the marriage certificate has witnesses listed.

And there was the fourth connection that says yes to Jorgina being the daughter of John Stianson and Kari Gunlichsdatter – H. Einertson and E. Halvorson are the witnesses to her marriage. H. Einertson is her sister Ingaborg’s husband – Halvor, (E. Halvorson is possibly her cousin, a son of Ingaborg and Halvor, I’m not really sure yet).

I am still trying to find a church record for Jorgina and Amund’s marriage. I might have to wait until I get to Salt Lake City to look at the Lutheran Church records on microfilm there. But maybe an email to a good source before then will answer the question unequivocally.

Good things come to those who wait

I just realized this morning that I am researching two different Johnson families, one on both sides of the family tree. Totally unrelated of course. Hmmm, or are they?

Well back to the good things. During my recent research binge on Carrie Amundson’s mother’s side of the family, I saw a database of Minnesota County marriages listed at the FHL site of online digital images, and decided to check it out. In a shoulder shrugging ‘what the heck’ moment I decided to type in Amund Amundson and Kari Jorgina Johnsons names. I had already contacted the Goodhue County register of deeds office years ago for a record and they told me there wasn’t one.

Imagine my shock when there it, was for all the world to see. A marriage record in Goodhue County for  Ammund Amunndson and Kari Jorgina Johnson.

Married January 2, 1874 in Lyon, Goodhue County, Minnesota. No parents names listed of course. That would make things too easy.

I will place no blame, nor make no accusations. I am just happy to have found it.