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:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_farms_in_Etnedal



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