Back in Norway again…

Well it has been a few weeks since I found out the origins of half of my Norwegian side. (The jury is still out on Amund Amundson.) So I thought I would give an update.

The Norwegian digitalarkkivet site has greatly improved since I visited it 10 or so years ago. I am not sure how much is not on their site, but they do have church book records, censuses and emigrant lists. I have found many actual digitized church records for Jorgina’s family and a few census records from 1801 and 1865. The church records for Drangedal go back to the late 1600s and if one has the patience to read them you can find loads of data.

Having been aware of a series of books called Bygebøker that are specific to Norwegian research, and the history of particular farms/areas of Norway, I checked to see if there is one for Aase or Drangedal. Thankfully there is, so I interlibrary loaned Drangedal med Tørdal Bygdebøk. I have spent the last 3 weeks going “googly-eyed” from using Google translate and my Bygdebøk, typing in paragraphs of Norwegian text trying to figure out who, what and where.

I am happy to say that I finished with the book this last weekend, and I am now more cognizant of Norwegian. Although not conversant. Now, the books themselves are notorious for having errors, I found many in the dates, by comparing with actual records, when I found them, but on the whole they are very informative resources for this type of research. I still plan on trying to find original source material to co-oberate the data I have found, but that is for the future. Right now I have a family tree for Jorgina that goes back, in a few cases, to the later part of the 1500s. In the case of one family we are directly descended from three siblings.

I am still waiting for an English version of the book so I can acquire the specifics, some of the information in the book contains a few very intriguing stories about some of our relatives that need a true translation to better understand.

So I am including a chart, for your amusement, of the family so far, although it is unreadable on this blog at least you can see the trees size. Jorgina and her siblings are the last line on the bottom. At least three came to the US in 1869, Gunlech, Anne Karine and Jorgina, along with their parents. I know that the eldest son Stian inherited the farm and stayed in Norway. He had several daughters all of whom stayed in Norway, so we could still have cousins there.


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Norway I hardly know you

It all started with a gentleman from Australia, or I should say it all started with an email from a gentleman from Australia. He was contacting me regarding a mtDNA match with one of my mtDNA accounts at FamilyTreeDNA, and as I have many accounts with FamilyTreeDNA I first had to find out which one he was matching. So I responded. A day later he informed me the match was with Victor John’s maternal line, this would be Myrtle Hamm. The match is only in Region 1 which means our common ancestress would be very far back in time. His mother’s line is English so any connection would probably have to do with the Nordic folks invading England, because Myrtle’s maternal line is 100% Norwegian.

I have to confess I haven’t done as much Norwegian research as I should have because well, the records that are available are in Norwegian, the websites that have the records are in Norwegian, and having no experience with Norwegian in any way, shape, or form, I’m afraid I felt a bit intimidated by the research. But that’s ended now. I decided I needed to buckle down and try again. Maybe things have changed in last few years. 

From past experience I am familiar with two sources for Norwegian research. One is the FHL, the other is http://arkivverket.no/Digitalarkivet, a Norwegian website that I have tried in the past.  So I started with the FHL. They have very few online digital records for Norway, but the ones that they do have include births, christenings, marriages, deaths. So I started with births hoping to find Kari Jorgina Johnson’s birth record. 

From the many census records I have found for Kari I knew the month she was born and the year. I also know her parents names from her death record at the asylum. Although we couldn’t quite read the father’s surname. We came up with John Staneson.

I found a record for a Kari Jorgina Johnsdtr born May 31, 1838 and baptized June, 1838. Her parents names were John Stianson and Kari Gunlichsdtr.

Kari Jorgina Johnsdtr baptismal record. Click on images for larger size to see details.

Kari’s death information indicated her mother’s name was Kari Johnson. It is quite possible that information is incorrect. So if I have indeed found her baptismal record, further research on her parents has taken me in to the 1760s with her parents, parents births, marriages, etc. I have even found family in the 1801 and 1865 Norwegian census.

I am inclined to believe that the above baptismal record is true. Here’s why. In looking for all the siblings for Kari, I found a brother named Gunlech. He is said, by another researcher of this same family, to have emigrated to Minnesota in 1869, in fact I believe I found him in a census record in the same county Kari shows up in, in 1875, married to Amund, with their daughter Amelia Christine. In fact I think I even found her parents in 1875. There is also a cemetery index record for Gunlech that includes the information that he emigrated in 1869 from Aase, Tordal, Drangedal, Telemark, Norway. By the way, that is where the family is from.

John Stianson and Kari were using the farm name of Aase as their surname in the census record.

So you can see my hesitation in doing Norwegian research, all those name changes with each generation, using farm names, not using farm names. It can lead to much hair pulling and teeth nashing.

Here is a map found at Wikipedia of the area of Drangedal where Tordal, Aase is located in Telemark. Click on images for larger size to see details.

The evidence appears to be pretty convincing. I am hoping now to find a ship record for the members of the family. That might help to make the connection. I also need to look at church records in Goodhue County, Minnesota again, now that I have a better idea of what I am looking for.

This is all very exciting for me. Now I am getting all nostalgic for Norway. If only I could get the same break on Amund. Guess I will have to keep digging.

A picture in Tordal, to get a general idea of the landscape.