Wednesday, September 24, 2008

One Farm or Two?

Grandmother was a Fjeld.  She married a Nussberger from Wisconsin shortly after they met in a hospital at the end of WWII.  If I remember correctly, Grandfather was wounded (yet again!) and Grandmother (this is the part I am certain of) had been badly injured in an automobile accident.

Grandmother was from North Dakota.  Her ancestors had been in the Dakotas since the Dakotas were mere territories.  The Fjelds can be found in the 1885 Dakota Territory Census living in Nelson County, where most of them remained into the late 20th century.  Some still live there today.  In fact, the farm belonging to Grandmother Fjeld's branch of the family remained in family hands until the 1970's when Great Grandmother Fjeld sold the farm.

You will not find the Fjelds in the 1885 Dakota Territory Census by searching under the name, Fjeld, for census takers usually spelled family names the way they sounded or simply "Americanized" them for this particular census.  It is helpful to know that American Fjelds often pronounce their name "Field."  In this case, if you search on the name, "Field," you will find all of Grandmother Fjeld's then living ancestors, as well as living collateral family members with the surname, Fjeld.  In short, all those who immigrated to America.

Ingeri Mælum av Lie, Grandmother's great grandmother, is listed as "Ingrary Field."  Her age is given as 50 even though she was 53 years old at the time.  Perhaps the census taker rounded.  Perhaps not.  In any case, it is clear from perusing the U.S. censuses in which this immigrant ancestor appears that she had little patience for census takers, even Norwegian census takers.  She likely considered them a nuisance at best, nosey at worst.  Grandmother's great grandmother died in January of 1916, six years before Grandmother was born.

Another feisty woman, and an immigrant ancestor to boot, lived on until 1952 - Grandmother's grandmother, Kari Knudsdatter Ruse.  Kari Ruse married Ingeri's thirdborn son, Martin Olsen Fjeld, and she was from the Old Country.  She was from the same sokn that Ingeri Mælum av Lie hailed from - Bruflat subparish in the Valdres region of Norway.  She is the likely source of the information my own grandmother had on her Norwegian family tree, which she wrote down and stashed in a book she gave to my mother when my mother was a girl:

The family story is that the Fjelds came from Norway and lived on the Fjeld farm in that country.  What succeeding generations neglected to mention in the telling or else forgot altogether was that there are many Fjeld farms in many Norwegian fylke.  Mother certainly neglected to mention it.  Actually, I don't think Mother knew.  Mother had never heard of Bruflat until I discovered it in my own research.

Another fact that I must mention is that I did not have access to this simple pedigree chart when I started my research.  Truthfully, I only came across this pedigree chart a couple of months ago when Mother gave me all the family photo albums, books and negatives in her possession.  She was afraid my brother would file them in the circular file - either some Saturday when she was at work, without her knowledge or her consent, or, upon her death, as he has threatened to do with most of her items.

Some people just don't know what they have!

Armed with nothing but a family story, I marched into my research of the family farm in Norway as wide-eyed and innocent as any of the patriotic soldiers that marched to war at the beginning of our Civil War.  Therefore, it was with no small dose of consternation that I discovered my ancestors living on Thorshaugen farm in the 1865 Telling.  Ice cold water had been doused upon my research and the realities of war were sinking in...

Perusal of church records found my ancestors living alternately on Thorshaugen farm and Fjeld farm.  Now, I was truly confused.  I had read that sometimes farms were known locally by one name and were listed by authorities under another name and I thought that this must have been what happened in the case of Thorshaugen/Fjeld.  Adding fuel to the fire was the fact that parish priests could choose which name to use in their own records, often alternating between several different names for the same farm.

Enter the real estate records.  These records show Thorshaugen farm being sold by Ole Knudsen Thorshaugen to Even Mikkelsen Byfuglien before 1868 (I don't now recall the exact year).  A daughter of the latter - Berthe Evensdatter - was born at Thorshaugen farm on 26 December 1868.  Meanwhile, records show my ancestors living on the Fjeld farm, or Midtfjeld and, indeed, the years following the sale of Thorshaugen are the years in the parish records wherein my ancestors are shown living on Fjeld farm.  That clinched it.

One farm or two?  Thorshaugen and Fjeld are clearly two separate farms.

Oluf Rygh and the Matrikkelutkastet av 1950 state that Thorshaugen is an old farm, either a part of Bakke or another name for the Bakke farm itself.  The Fjeld and Midtfjeld (Fjeld Mellem) farms are different farms entirely.  Looking at a map, they are quite a distance from each other.

For those who are curious, Wikipedia has a list of farms in Bruflat:

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Breech-Birth Luck

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I found it excessively easy to find records on my female relatives, as well as whereabouts, husbands, and married names.  In fact, it is usually through a female ancestor that I discover bits and pieces of the puzzle regarding male ancestors and my family history.

This is, of course, quite backwards from the normal experience of genealogical research.  Let us say, that breech is the natural way my intuition works.  It is the natural way in which synchronicity plays a role in my research.

At the risk of sounding like a lunatic in desperate need of a fancy white jacket with extra long arms and walls with white padding, I firmly believe that certain of my ancestors - female ancestors - are assisting me in my research from beyond the grave and that their male counterparts are desperately ducking discovery.  Hmm... sounds like waking life!

But I digress.

The point is, my luck with research runs counter to the normal experience, which brings me to surprises.

In the same post, I mentioned my ancestors had a few surprises in store for me.  One such surprise involved Thorshaugen farm.  I had - quite wrongly, I might add - assumed that my immigrant ancestors had lived on Thorshaugen farm most, if not all, of their lives.  At least as long as Ingri Olsdatter Mælum av Lie and Ole Knudsen Fjeld had been married.  At the same time, I had assumed - quite wrongly again - that Ole Knudsen Fjeld had immigrated to the United States as well.  This assumption led to the further assumption that Ole Knudsen had died soon after his arrival, or during the journey to America itself, as he appeared nowhere in the American records from 1865 onwards.

Then I discovered the Norwegian immigration records of Ingri (Mælum av Lie) Fjeld and her children.  Nowhere did Ole Knudsen Fjeld appear in these records.  Perhaps, he had immigrated alone?

Really?  Then why were there no U.S. records, no U.S. census records, no property records, etc., involving Ole Knudsen Fjeld?  Ingri appears in all the censuses after the 1880 U.S. census and in not one of these does her husband make an appearance.  Ingri even appears in the 1885 Dakota Territory Census, living in Nelson County, North Dakota.  No Ole Knudsen Fjeld there either.

It was time to face the fact that Ole Knudsen Fjeld may have died on Norwegian soil before his wife immigrated to the United States.

At this time, the Digitalarkivet of Norway was in the process of uploading parish records to their web site.  This meant that some records were online, but others were not.  At the time of my research, most were not online.   This dearth of information held especially true for Bruflat parish records, which, I had read had been burned during WWII.  Or, at least, the records for the years that I needed had burned.

Therefore, over a long period, I returned to the parish records on a weekly or monthly basis, praying for records.  Finally, the Bruflat parish records for 1866-1893 were uploaded.  I spent months searching because I had never laid eyes on Gothic handwriting, which is very different from our own.  Many Gothic letters are unrecognizable to modern readers.  To make matters worse, some letters have multiple forms in the Gothic, which vaguely resemble some of our modern cursive letters, but which usually turn out to be different letters entirely in the Gothic.  Nor did i speak or read Norwegian.

I was illiterate.

Frustrated, I Googled away and taught myself to read Gothic handwriting.

Once I had learned how to read Gothic handwriting, I combed through every page in the deaths and burials section of the 1866-1893 Bruflat i Sør Aurdal klokkerbok.  I was looking for Ole Knudsen of Thorshaugen or Fjeld farm.  In previous searches through the Bruflat parish records, I had discovered births of some of Ole and Ingri's children and that their residence changed from Thorshaugen to Fjeld farm to midt Fjeld farm.  I had two theories:

  1. Thorshaugen, Fjeld and midt Fjeld were names for the same farm.

  2. Thorshaugen, Fjeld and midt Fjeld were names for different farms.

That is why I was searching for an Ole Knudsen who had died while residing at either Thorshaugen or Fjeld farm.  On page 198, I found what I had been looking for... and  it left me breathless because I had expected to come away from the klokkerbok empty-handed and blind. (Klokkerboks are not easy to read.)

The answer to why Ole Knudsen Fjeld did not appear in the American records with his wife, Ingri, stared back at me in all its starkness, as if to say, "Boo!"

Ole Knudsen, Farmer, Fjeld farm, died 17 December 1873, buried 11 January 1874.

A single line.

Mystery solved.

Next up:  Thorshaugen and Fjeld - One Farm or Two?

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pioneering Women Part II

Kari Knudsdatter Ruse

Kari Knudsdatter Ruse was born on the 17th of July in 1867 on the Ruse (Lundeseie) farm in Bruflat sokn in the Sør Aurdal parish of the Valdres region of Norway.  Traveling aboard the Island, a steamship, Kari Ruse arrived at the Port of New York on 7 July 1888.  Alone.  She would later marry Martin Olsen Fjeld - son of Ingeri Olsdatter Mælum av Lie and Ole Knudsen Fjeld - in about 1891, probably in Our Savior's Lutheran Church in rural Kloten, Nelson County, North Dakota.

Children of Kari Knudsdatter Ruse and Martin Olsen Fjeld:

  1. Ole Martinsen Fjeld* (1892-1954)

  2. Christian Martinsen Fjeld (1893-1993)

  3. Clarence Martinsen Fjeld (1895-1916)

  4. Inger Martinsdatter Fjeld (1896-1976)

  5. Alma Martinsdatter Fjeld (1899-1974)

  6. Agnetta Martinsdatter Fjeld (1900-1902)

  7. Albert Martinsen Fjeld (1903- ????)

  8. Melvin Martinsen Fjeld (1905-1989)

  9. Agnes Martinsdatter Fjeld (1909- ????)

According to parish records (Bruflat i Sør Aurdal, 1866-1893), Kari Knudsdatter was born to parents Knud Syversen Ruse and Anne Arnesdatter (of Hovde farm, as marriage records reveal) on 17 July 1867 and baptized on 29 September 1867 in Bruflat Kirke.  Siblings of Kari Knudsdatter Ruse are Syver, Arne, Martin, Anders, Ole, and Kristian, the latter three being her younger siblings.  This family can be found in the 1865 Telling living on the Ruse farm.

Ancestors of Kari Knudsdatter Ruse:

  • Knud Syversen Ruse, Father

  • Anne Arnesdatter Hovde, Mother

  • Syver Thidemansen Ruse, Paternal Grandfather

  • Marthe Olsdatter, Paternal Grandmother

  • Arne Syversen Hovde, Maternal Grandfather

  • Kari Andersdatter, Maternal Grandmother


  • Bruflat i Sør Aurdal, 1866-1893

  • 1865 Telling for 0540 Søndre Aurdal

  • Sør Aurdal 1825-1840 Ministerialbok

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Pioneering Women Part I

Ingeri Olsdatter Mælum av Lie

Ingeri Olsdatter Mælum av Lie was born on 5 December 1832 on the Mælum av Lie farm in Bruflat Sokn in what was then the parish of Sør Aurdal (now Etnedal).  She married Ole Knudsen of Lie farm around 1855 and later lived on Thorshaugen and Fjeld farms, both in Bruflat.  Her husband, Ole Knudsen, died on Fjeld farm in December of 1873 and Ingeri left Norway nearly 10 years later aboard the Angelo with her youngest children.  Her two eldest sons had already immigrated to the United States.

Children of Ingeri Olsdatter Mælum av Lie and Ole Knudsen Fjeld

  1. Knud Olsen Fjeld

  2. Ole Olsen Fjeld

  3. Martin Olsen Fjeld*

  4. Anne Olsdatter Fjeld (and possible Marit Olsdatter Fjeld)

  5. Inger Olsdatter Fjeld

  6. Christian Olsen Fjeld

  7. Christopher Olsen Fjeld

  8. Olava Olsdatter Fjeld

In the Sør Aurdal parish registers of 1826-1840, we find Ingeri's parents listed as Ole Andersen Mælum av Lie and his wife, Anne Knudsdatter.  The marriage record of this couple can be found on page 395 of the Sør Aurdal 1825-1840 Ministerialbok.  Here, we find that Anne Knudsdatter is from Espelien farm and, in fact, that Ole Andersen was living on Granum farm at the time of their marriage.

Children of Anne Knudsdatter Espelien and Ole Andersen (Granum) Mælum av Lie:

  1. Knud Olsen Mælum av Lie

  2. Ingeri Olsdatter Mælum av Lie

  3. Anders Olsen Mælum av Lie

  4. Ole Olsen Mælum av Lie

  5. Maria Olsdatter Mælum av Lie

  6. Andreas Olsen Mælum av Lie

  7. Tollef Olsen Mælum av Lie


  • Sør Aurdal Parish Register 1826-1840, page 95, line 12

  • Bruflat i Sør Aurdal Klokkerbok 1866-1893, page 30, line 25

  • 1865 Folketelling for 0540 Sør Aurdal

  • Bruflat i Sør Aurdal Klokkerbok 1866-1893, page 198, line 3

  • Sør Aurdal Ministerialbok 1825-1840, page 395, line 28

  • Sør Aurdal Ministerialbok 1825-1840, page 50, line 94

  • Sør Aurdal Ministerialbok 1825-1840, page 3058, line 39

  • Sør Aurdal 1841-1849, page 111, line 82

  • Sør Aurdal 1841-1849, page 183, line 27

  • 1865 Folketelling for 0540 Søndre Aurdal, page 207

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