Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Archives Speak

We have many possible dates for the Melom family's immigration, ranging from before 1876 to 1883.  In addition, we have multiple U.S. records displaying the same dates of birth and dates of death for our family members and, notably, for Andrew Olsen Melom.  Then, there are the LDS records for the family, revealing the names and approximate dates of birth for these family members.

However, what do the parish records say about these names and dates?  These are the records closer to the actual dates in time and I would expect them to clinch the matter and have a higher likelihood of being accurate, although it is not unheard of to find mistakes in parish records, even those kept close to the date of the event, with higher accuracy for baptisms than actual births.  What do we find for the Ole Olsen Melom family?

In short, we find conflicting data at every turn.

The LDS data, while providing a good guide, is incorrect regarding both names and dates.  A perusal of the actual parish records reveals that "Emil" Melom was actually named "Ole Olsen Melom" and that he was born 4 September 1869, baptized 10 October 1869, and died 13 November 1869.  The child was buried on 1 January 1870.  This proves Anne Knudsdatter Hestekindeie was pregnant when she wed Ole Olsen Melom on 14 May 1869.  She and Ole would not have another child until 1874, when Anne Knudsdatter gave birth to Ole Olsen Melom on 2 January 1874.  Parish registers indicate another child, baptized Anders Olsen Melom on 5 September 1875, was born 8 August 1875, revealing the American records to be incorrect with regards to the year of birth and, possibly, the day of birth as well, although I have a little less confidence in the birth dates listed in the parish records than I do in the actual baptism dates.  Andrew is the Americanized form of Anders.

The next child born to Ole and Anne Melom, often listed as Olive in the United States, would be Olava Melom.  According to the parish registers, Olava Melom was baptized in Bruflat kirke on 26 December 1876, having been born on 20 November 1876.  No child would follow for another three years.  Then, on 11 May 1879, Martin Olsen is baptized, having been born on 13 April 1879, according to the parish registers.

This implies that if the Meloms left Norway in 1879, they did so after 11 May 1879.  There are no parish records listing their departure.  Perusal of the remaining baptisms through the year 1884 - a year past the latest date given for their immigration - reveal no further baptisms in the family.  We know Julius Ingvald and Anne Olsdatter were born in the United States in 1887 and 1890 respectively.  The question remained, where was Carl Olsen Melom born?  The U.S. or Norway?

A quick glance at the Wisconsin Genealogy Index would reveal the answer.  Carl Olsen Melom was born in Jackson County, Wisconsin (probably in Garfield) on 21 December 1881.  He died in May of 1968 in Barron, Barron, Wisconsin.  What this means is the Melom family immigrated to the United States sometime between 12 May 1879 and 20 December 1881.

One last question remains:  Who is Emil Melom and did he really exist?  Is Emil the first Ole who died in Norway in 1869, or is he a different person, possibly born in the United States?

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