Ole Larson's Folks

Cousin Aline recently sent a letter with some fascinating enclosures: pages from two very old books, with inscriptions by Ole Larson’s sister, Marit Larsdatter. Marit was four years older than Ole, and immigrated to Wisconsin with him, their mother, and another sister. She died in 1880 from complications at the birth of her third child. The baby also died. Aline included a photo of Marit in her seminal “Larsons and Slettens 1985.”


Marit Larsdatter 1837-1880

It is the only known image of any of the four immigrants of 1865 (Ole, Marit, Mari, and mother Anne).

Here is the title page of one of the books.

Book 1Translation: “David Hollazens The Order of Grace. How a soul is brought from his own righteousness and godliness to his own sinful miseries’ acknowledgement, But thereafter is led to the open arms of Jesus; and thus by faith, is coming to the forgiveness of sins, and a godly life. Composed of Four Conversations.”

Not so interesting so far? Here is the good part: the inscriptions in Marit’s own handwriting.“This book belongs to Marit Larsdatter Skurdalseiet, Fron. It is given me by Pastor Olsen in Aamodt.”

On the facing page:

“I emigrated to America in the year 1865 the 8th of May from Christiana, and came to Quebec after 7 weeks journey over the sea, to Coon Prairie the 8th of July same year.”

Finally, a page either from another book, or a loose sheet in it.book 3“Belongs to me, Marit Larsdatter Skurdalsbrenden.* I was born September 1837 and was confirmed in South Fron church the 13th of June 1851. Emigrated from my old home the 18th of April 1865 and came here to Coon Prairie the 8th of July same year, 1865.”

*This is the first time I have seen the suffix “…brenden” attached to the farm name Skurdal. I do not yet know the significance; “brende” translates as “burned”(?) This deserves more investigation.

These documents were shared with Aline by Edwin Giese, Marit’s great-grandson (who is part Sletten as well). Tusen takk to both these cousins. In case you are counting, Edwin is third cousin to me and my generation of Larsons. It is quite a thrill to view the actual penstrokes of our great-great aunt, written more than 130 years ago.

Thomas Bennet In-Depth
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