Tusen Takk to cousin Mary and her mother Clarice, who found her copy of “Utvandringa Til Amerika …“ in English translation, and sent me the narrative pages. There is some excellent background and statistics there, relating not only to Ringebu, but all of Gudbrandsdal, and indeed all of Norway. Here is a passage that illuminates the unpleasant experience of Anne Larsdatter and Ole Larson in particular:
Ringebu parish is directly adjacent to Sør-Fron. The four years of crop failures from 1836-1839 must surely have been a factor in Anne Larsdatter’s “crime,” stealing a bucketful of potatoes and some cured fish, in March of 1840. The author’s statement that people “did not actually starve to death” may be technically correct, but surely many children and others died early from diseases sorely aggravated by hunger and malnutrition.
Speaking of criminal matters, I have finally found someone to help me transcribe the “next” document, from the appeals court, which contains some more details on Anne’s case. This is the document that cousin Myrna kindly obtained on her trip to Norway last spring. Stay tuned.
4 CommentsLEAVE A COMMENT
Lois Larson Hall
Jan 14, 2010
I wonder how many other people besides our great-great-grandmother Anne were guilty of the same mis-deeds, stealing only to get enough food to feed their hungry children. My guess would be many more than just her. She just happened to get caught. The punishment was severe for the relatively minor offense.
Jan 16, 2010
Yes, extremely severe, a la “Les Miserables.” On the other hand, her case went through two appeals, all the way to Norway’s Supreme Court! I am very curious about the criminal justice system in that time and place.
One thing I have learned from preliminary work on the Appeals Court document: While Anne was sentenced to eight months, her two accomplices got six and three-month sentences, which were not appealed. My fictional narrative is not going to match these events very closely, but I do have an inkling to make Anna less culpable than the others, but getting framed by them to end up with the harshest sentence.
Anne’s Crimes « Ole's Blog
Apr 3, 2010
[…] Keep in mind that this comes on the heels of four consecutive years of crop failures. According to Einar Hovdhaugen, people were grinding up birch bark and moss to make bread. The question comes to mind: were […]
Grandma’s Fortitude « Ole's Blog
Feb 9, 2011
[…] was several years prior to the Irish potato famine of 1845-46. By the winter of 1839-40 people were “grinding up birch bark and moss to make bread.” For Anne’s part, she and her husband had to feed not only themselves, but four or five […]