Ole Larson's Folks

In Scandinavia, records of the Lutheran Church are available as far back as around 1600 for some localities. An unfortunate exception is Ole’s home parish, Fron, where records prior to 1799 were destroyed in a fire at the vicarage. Until about 1600, written records were not kept for unlanded and unprivileged citizens, such as servants and husmenn, except sometimes at the farm level, and many of those unpublished records have not survived. Although the husmann population was small prior to the 1700’s, there were a larger number in the servant class. Any ancestors in these populations are most likely undocumented.

Even for the upper classes, such ancient documents are widely scattered and not easily accessible. And even more recent documents, other than the churchbooks, are not so easy to ferret out. Documents of national interest, such as the Supreme Court act sentencing Anne Larsdatter (1841), are housed at the National Archive (Riksarkivet) in Oslo. This is a large facility with a sizeable staff, and I was able to obtain a copy of the two documents by email without charge. Documents of local or regional importance, on the other hand, are kept at city and regional archives (Byarkiver and Statsarkiver). These do not have adaquate staffing to search and copy materials, so in-person visits are required.

I am keenly interested in viewing other documents relating To Anne’s imprisonment, including records of the prison, two lower courts, and a local “Sorenskriver” (some sort of magistrate) in Gudbrandsdal. All of these are referenced in the Supreme Court document, so I know the exact dates, and the correct names of the courts or authorities that issued them, but the documents are located (if they survive at all) in the smaller archives in Oslo and Hamar.

As much as I would love to visit Norway, see the countryside where these people lived, and search the archives myself, it seems a distant dream at this point, given the sorry state of our retirement savings. Alternatively, I am corresponding with Terje Gudbrandson, a professional genealogist in Oslo, who will happily do this work for $45 US per hour. He estimates that to search and copy the two documents probably located in Oslo will take a minimum of three hours (his minimum charge), but probably more. If he transcribes the handwriting and translates into English, his total estimate is up to ten hours.  I am guessing that a similar amount would be required for professional help (from Terje or someone else) with the archive in Hamar.

So it looks like this project, if done professionally, would cost up to $1000 US. I’m afraid even that is over budget.  Well, alright, I don’t really have any budget, but you get my drift. If there are relatives out there who are as curious about this as I am, maybe we can pool our resources …

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