And now a break from the old movies, to amuse ourselves with a little genealogy. I have been studying Helene Olsdatter, Ole Larson’s second wife. She is not a direct ancestor of mine or my first cousins, but is the mother of Oscar and Olaf Larson, and of Paula (“Aunt Polly”) Larson Sletten, Manda Larson Lunde, and Herman Larson. In addition, Helene’s eldest daughter Alma Larson Raiten, is one of the most prolific of all, with eight children and a total of nine pages of descendants in the “Larsons and Slettens” book.
There was very little background on Helene in “Larsons and Slettens.” She was said to be a midwife and herbalist. Aunt Polly was quoted as saying she “came over on the same boat with the Slettens.” Cousin Mary Lentine has asked her mother, cousin Clarice, for some further information on Helene’s immigration and early life in America, which I will post as soon as I receive it.
I was able to reach quite far into the past using the churchbooks and other online resources from Norway. Aline gave Helene’s birth date as 11 Oct. 1855, and her parents’ names as Ole Lien and Anna Hansdatter. That was enough to get me started, and I located her birth record (actual date 11 Oct. 1854), in Gausdal parish:
Link to the page at Digitalarkivet
(year 1854) (born) Oct. 11, (baptized) Oct. 29, Helene; (Parents): Inderst* Ole Johansen Brettingen (and wife) Anne Hansdatter. (Witnesses): Engebregt Hansen Børø _ ningen (and wife)) —? Marthe Simonsdatter Bratland, Marthe af Christen Christensdatter, and Nils Hansen Rud-Bølien.
*”Inderst” is an indication of status or occupation; my Norwegian chatroom friends had a hard time translating it. One thought it was some kind of servant, but others said it indicated a person staying at a home that is not their permanent residence. At any rate, I found that Ole and Anne moved around a lot, which complicated my work. I may expand on that in another post. For now, I am able to report with good confidence Helene’s pedigree for three prior generations.
Since this is another whole branch of the family, I will put up a new page for it in the Generations section. More info to follow as it develops.
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May 4, 2009
On genealogy help site, I found a definition of “Inderst.” It means someone renting a room in a home. There wasn’t much further explanation. I’m guessing the status of such a family is as low or lower that a “husmann med jord,” who at least had a little land to grow food, along with their own home, however small and sparsely furnished.
Dec 15, 2013
Following some names on my husbands genealogy. His Great-great Grandmother is listed as Helene Olsdatter. This Helene Olsdatter also married an Ole. An Ole Olsen Galgerud out of East Toten (Toten-Creek). This may sound like a silly question but is Olsdatter a common name in Norway? Have just started our search.
Dec 15, 2013
Yes, Olsdatter was a *very* common surname for females in old Norway. As you are probably learning, surnames were not passed down from a father to his children in the familiar way. Instead, children were given a form of their father’s *first* name; therefore, all sons of Ole, regardless of *his* surname, got the surname “Olsen/Olson.” And daughters – you guessed it – Olsdatter. That makes it very hard to trace a family back through the generations. Further, Ole was by far the most common given name for males; I counted 16 out of 100 male baptisms in a certain old churchbook. I wrote two articles about this: “All Those Ole’s,” part 1, and part 2.