Carrie Sues the Railroad…

Carrie8 (Kari7, Kari6, Ingeborg5, Kari4, Agnete3, Auslauf2, Kari1 Persdotter Finneid) Amundson Hamm who married Frederick Hamm sometime around 1903, had had a child with a gentleman by the name of John Gustafson in 1900. It is currently unknown as to whether or not they were actually married. This child was named John C. Gustafson, (the initial ‘C’ is said to stand for Cornelius). We know very little about John’s childhood, other than the fact that in 1908, when Carrie took Fred to court for non-support of his family (which consisted of her and my grandmother Myrtle at the time), it was mentioned by Fred that her 8 year old son John was living with his grandparents Amund and Jorgina Amundson. Nothing is known about John’s father.

It appears that like my grandmother Myrtle, her half-brother John spent very little time living with their mother Carrie, certainly not when the census takers came around.1 The reason for Carrie’s abdication of her motherly duties is never made clear to us, so any reasons we would give would be mere speculation. I believe that she was simply incapable of doing so due to mental health.

Because Carrie’s mother Jorgina had died in 1907 and her father Amund in 1917, John was now no longer living with his grandparents, and likely on his own at the age of about 17 working to feed himself and possibly helping his mother out. We do not know how close their relationship was, or even if they had one. But in 1920 when he was injured on the job Carrie stepped up to the plate to help him get monetary compensation from his employers:

amundson_carrie

newspaper_amundsoncarrie_1920 copy

News-Tribune newspaper article about the court case. His mother Carrie is on the left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John’s grandfather Amund, and step-father Fred, had both worked at the ore-docks of the Duluth, Missabe & Northern Railroad company in Duluth’s harbor in the early 1900s, information which is found in the city directories. John most likely got the job because his grandfather had been there for many years, so he had an ‘in’. The image below is what the docks looked like at the time of his accident.

 

ore_dock

Ore docks of the Duluth, Missabe & Northern Railroad where John was injured.

 

According to the personal injury case (#43788) dated September 4th of 1920, Carrie was filing as John’s guardian against the DM&NRR railroad because of permanent injuries he had suffered while working at the ore-dock. Carrie brought the suit as John’s guardian because he was only 19 years old and therefore still considered a minor, as such he was unable to bring a lawsuit on his own. If indeed that was what he wanted.

The complaint stated that John had been working for DM&NRR for some time on the ore-docks, performing duties related to unloading the vessels. A description of how the unloading of the ore was also provided in the record as follows.

Ore-Dock-Duluth

mentoreight37

The ships containing the ore in which John worked were unloaded with complicated machinery. This type of vessel had a number of large compartments each separated by large beams running across from side to side. Each compartment was equipped with a large hatchway that ran across the deck of the ship and allowed access to the hold. Hoisting rigs were arranged along the dock so that they could be moved to a point above any of the hatchways. These rigs consisted of a horizontal track suspended at a great height above the ship and ran from a point above the hatchway back over and upon the dock. Attached to the rig is a carriage which moves back and forth carrying a heavy steel cable from which a clam shell bucket was hung, this bucket was dropped down into the hold to grabbed the coal and pull it up to the dock where is was then deposited into a big pile.

The people who operated the rigs were called hoisters. The rate of speed with which these rigs ran was ‘terrific’, and the speed also caused the clam shells to swing and sway from one side to another striking against walls of the hold, which made it pretty dangerous for the employees who were working in the hold where the ore was being removed.

On this particular day John’s job was as one of the ‘cleaners up.’ They shoveled the coal left in the hold, that the rigs couldn’t reach, in a pile to the center where it could then be lifted out. This work was tiring and required undivided attention of the ‘cleaners up’ to avoid getting ‘eaten’ by the clam shells. It was while one of these clam shells was being carelessly manipulated by a hoister, according to the complaint, that John was struck by the device and injured. In fact he was injured so badly that his right foot had to eventually be amputated above the ankle.

Of course, the railroad answered that they were not responsible for his loss and a court date was set. Unfortunately, I don’t know what happened with the case from there, as there is nothing further in the records regarding its progress.  I will assume that the parties settled, but the case could have been dismissed too. John was now a 20  year old young man out of a job and disabled.  I can only imagine how long it must’ve taken him to recover from having his foot amputated and then trying to find work after that.

By 1923/4 John was married a woman slightly older than himself, by the name of Lillian Jarvella (or Lania/Lavis/Lavia, records are quite varied regarding her last name). They eventually had 9 children together*, some I am sure who are still around as they were born in the 30s and 40s. According to census records John was working as a farmer in the 1930s and a paper hanger in the 1940s. He died in 1985 in Minneapolis.

* John and Lillian named one of their sons Clarence and one of their daughters Myrtle. After his half-sister and her soon to be husband? Hmmm.

1 Myrtle did live with her mother from birth, 1906, to at least 1908. But by the 1910 census and thereafter, until her marriage, she was permanently residing with her Hamm grandparents in Wisconsin.

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.

A work in progress…

When I arrived in Salt Lake City on the 31st of last month, I still had about two hours of research time I could indulge in at the library before it closed at 5:00pm.

I decided to just look at the bygdebøk for Amund’s side of the family, as I can’t seem to get the book inter-library loaned at home. I spent the first half hour just trying to make heads or tails of the information and where I needed to start to find Amund himself.

Then, finally found him.

Now I could start working my way backwards, of course I also only had about an hour left to research. Here is his entry, [this digital image has been annotated by me for my own reference]:

Notice that his name in this publication is spelled Oddmund. I believe the church record of his birth has a similar spelling.

Unfortunately over the week that I was in SLC I only had short spurts of time I could spend looking through the book, so I never actually finished my research on Amund, but I was able to go back to the 1600s in several line’s as I could for Jorgina’s family.

Looks like I will have to go to the Madison Norwegian research center. I hear they are great.

Google maps has a ‘live’ view of the area of Norway that Amund lived so I am including two shots of each side of the road where Amunds’ family came from. After looking at these images I can imagine the appeal of living in Duluth for Amund, and working on the docks, he had water in his veins.

I have indicated ‘Here’ on the map to show the side of the fjord/inlet where Amund’s family came from, they lived up and down this waterway.

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.

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.

Georgina Amundson, I have found you

Today I received an envelope in the mail from the Minnesota Historical Society. In it was a case file for Georgina Amundson who died 28 April 1907 at the Fergus Falls State Hospital. (If you have been paying attention to the Amundson family, you would know that this is the same facility that her daughter Amelia had been sent to in 1898.) The reason for Georgina’s commitment was dementia. Apparently her husband Amund couldn’t take care of her anymore as she had become a bit violent towards others, and was speaking incoherently and irrationally. She was committed by the court and arrived at Fergus Falls 21 February of 1907.

By the time of her commitment Georgina was 68 years old and she was only a resident for a short time when she died. Her symptoms has been around for six months to a year.

But thanks to this record of her commitment we  now know when and where Georgina died, and we have her parents names. Unfortunately I can’t read her father’s last name clearly it could be John Staneson, Stannson, Stanuson, or Stamson, but her mother’s name is clearly Carrie Johnson, and both were born in Norway. So when Jorgina was born she was most likely baptized as Jorginia Johnson (not Thonson as Kari would indicate in her Social Security form.)

Oh great more Norwegian records to go through. I have to admit my Norwegian is a bit rusty.

I love surprises of the genealogical kind…

I have access to several excellent newspaper databases. Each one has it’s own strengths. As these databases are constantly being updated with new data, I regularly check them for random names in our genealogical database to see if anything new shows up.

Today I decided on Fred Hamm, his wife Carrie Amundson and Emil, his brother. I was looking in the Wisconsin or Minnesota papers as that is pretty much where they lived their whole lives.

Boy did I get a doozie.

 This article has so many goodies in it I am giddy with joy.

First it tells me that Fred was fired from his policeman’s job, we also can confirm that he is a bounder, for not supporting Carrie and Myrtle. Fred and Carrie had been separated for several months. Carrie’s son John was living with her parents for a while and that her mother died about two years earlier. Lastly it confirms that the couple has been married, although we can find no record of the marriage, yet.

I am energized into researching the matter further and maybe now I will be able to find Carrie’s mother Jorgina’s death record.

This article is from November of 1908, one of the local Duluth newspapers.