Ole Larson's Folks

A Crackerjack Guide

I am deeply indebted to two individuals for the success of my “roots” tour in Gudbrandsdalen. One is Pål Kjorstad, head of the Fron Historielag. Pål had already helped my research enormously by email, as detailed in a recent post. The day before I arrived in the Fron area, I tried to telephone him, but I had copied his number incorrectly. The next morning, I luckily got the correct number and spoke with him for the first time. On a moment’s notice, he interrupted his work as a sheep farmer and agricultural consultant, spending the entire day guiding us around my sites of interest. At mid-day, he invited us to his home (Kjorstad, naturally), where his lovely wife, Signe, served us coffee and waffles, and his son Rasmus played some excellent folk fiddle for us.

Pål & familyPål’s knowledge of the area’s farms and history is truly amazing. He met us first at Sør-Fron church. My photos of the church are not as brilliant as the one on my home page (taken by a German tourist), due in part to the rainy weather.

SF churchThe gravestones below are not of known relatives, but do bear the names of my two top-priority farms.

SF stones

Flåtå: Birthplace of Lars Poulsen (c. 1792)

Throughout this series, when I say “birthplace,” I mean the land, not any existing buildings, pictured or otherwise. I may occasionally speculate on the age of a building, but even if it were old enough, there is no way to associate it with any individual.

You may recall that Lars Poulsen (or Paulson) was the father of Ole Larson. Almost nothing was known of him until cousin Aline started her research about 20 years ago. The Flåtå farm (also spelled Flaate, or Flaade, as on the gravestone above) was occupied until a year or two ago, but is now abandoned. To reach it, we walked about a half-mile up an unused driveway.

Flaate road

Only two buildings remain standing.

Flaate houseBased on the style of building, Pål estimated that the dwelling-house (foreground) dates from around 1900, over a century after Lars Poulsen walked this ground as a child. Note the extreme steepness of the cleared land. This is not very unusual in Norway, but unheard-of for farms in America. Here is a view across Flåtå’s overgrown fields toward two larger farms below.

Flaate fieldThe second building on the property, probably a storage shed or barn, is much older than the house, and may even date from Lars Poulsen’s time.

Flaate outbuildingFinally, the ruins of a root-cellar or underground barn. The earthen roof has caved in.

ruinsAs you may recall from that previous post, Flåtå was lost to Lars Poulsen’s family after his father died in 1797. While Lars, his widowed mother, and two of his eight siblings were still living there in 1801, they probably left soon after.

Next: Skurdal – large and complex.

Wake-up Call
Sør-Fron, Part 2