Ole Larson's Folks

As I hinted in the previous post, there is a question that has nagged at me ever since I learned that Ole Larson’s birth on Dec. 10, 1841 took place in Oslo Prison. The two court documents I now have in my possession, and the prison records summarized for me by an Oslo archivist, have done nothing to clarify the issue. With “cooling time” of 170 years and the passing of three or more generations, I hope it is not too indelicate to broach this question.

Here is the timeline: Anne and her companions allegedly committed their burglaries in March-April of 1840. Presumably, they were arrested between then and June 1 of that year, when the local magistrate sentenced Anne to 8 months in prison, and her two companions to lesser terms. Anne appealed her sentence, and it was upheld by the mid-level court in Oslo, the Stiftsoverret, on August 17 of the same year. The case was further appealed to the Høyesterret, or supreme court, also in Oslo, who also upheld the sentence, but not until April 23, 1841, more than 8 months later. The same day, Anne entered Oslo prison.

The nagging question: Where was Anne, and what was her status, during those intervening months? More specifically, in the weeks just prior to the Høyesterret order? It seems quite a stretch to assume not only that she did not attend the Stiftsoverret trial, but also that she was at home, free on bail or something of the sort, right up until leaving for Oslo (a journey of at least two weeks), just in time for the final session in Høyesterret. But that is the only scenario in which it is plausible that her husband, Lars Paulsen, was the baby’s father. If her pregnancy was full-term, Ole must have been conceived around March 10. If the birth was at all premature, which seems likely under such harsh conditions, conception would have been even later.

The unpleasant (one might even say, ugly) alternate scenario would be that Anne was the victim of sexual assault by a soldier, guard, or other official while in custody. That kind of violence probably occurred back then at least as often as it does today.

As disturbing as the thought is on a personal level, it has very little impact on my genealogical work per se. Of my eight great-grandparents, I have by far the least ancestry information for Ole; least of all for his putative father, Lars Paulsen. In fact, if my deduction is correct about Lars’ father, Paul Sveinsen Flaade, the line ends right there. Even if I am incorrect, and previous work holds up, the pedigree peters out just a few generations earlier. This situation is due to a fire that destroyed all the church records of Fron parish prior to about 1800. What information we do have comes from individual farm records collected by a historian of the region, which are hit-and-miss, to put it mildly.

Whether or not the missing facts ever come to light, this has to qualify as the “grandmother” of all “skeletons in the closet.”

Coming up: recollections of Reatha’s early life, from her own lips, with new details on Grandpa Isaac Larson.

Anne's Crimes