Ole Larson's Folks

We are looking for the Norwegian and Swedish roots of Olof Erickson (1833-1918), and his wife, Ingeborg, neighbors and long-time friends of Ole Larson in Norwegian Valley, aka Brush Creek, Wisconsin. From their gravestone and other sources, Olof’s birth was on 15 Mar 1833, in Värmeland, Sweden, while Ingeborg was born on 10 Oct 1837, in Gudbrandsdal, Norway. According to son Oluf Erickson’s essay, they were married in 1866.

… he married a young woman named Ingeborg Hoelstuen. Her parent were poor, but they did own a home of their own. The young couple were married in Tretten church … the same church where she had been baptized and confirmed, and where her ancestors had worshiped for many generations.

Note the reference to owning their home; more on that in a moment. Using the indexes at FamilySearch.org, and the images at Digitalarkivet of Norway, the marriage record from Tretten church was simple to find.

1866 Olof marr

Here is a partial, rough paraphrase: April 3, 1866, single man & lodger Olaf Eriksen, age 33, birthplace Värmeland, residing at Musdal, married to single woman and husmann’s daughter Ingeborg Fransdatter, age 29, birthplace Holstuen.

Plenty of details there to prove it is the correct couple. But note the “standing” of the bride: daughter of a husmann or tenant farmer. So her parents did not *really* own their own home; certainly not the land on which it stood. The tenant class (similar to “peasants” elsewhere in Europe) were perpetually impoverished, and socially outcast; they also made up the vast majority of immigrants to America; indeed, by the mid-nineteenth century, they were the majority in rural Norway itself.

Just the year before the marriage (1865), the second comprehensive census of Norway was taken. Also from Digitalarkivet:

Olof 1865

Pardon the squished appearance (click on the image for a better look). This is the first time I have seen a single woman counted as a “Husmand,” Normally, it is the father; widows are the only females normally counted as heads of household. Anyway, this gives us some more clear details. It should be quite easy to trace Ingeborg’s pedigree back several generations. I will save that project for later; it’s time to branch out into Swedish records for the first time.

As I mentioned, the digital archives of Sweden are “pay-to-play,” except at the LDS Family History Centers. The Swedish language is similar enough to Norwegian and Danish that I can use my tiny vocabulary of genealogical terms in the latter, along with Google Translate, to make partial sense of the entries.

1833 Olof bap2

15 [born], 16 [baptized; March 1833, Frykerud parish]; [residence:] Östre Glänne. Note that this all matches the info from Oluf Erickson quoted in the previous post. But contrary to the author’s assertion, Olof’s parents were not owners of the farm. “Torp.” ahead of the father’s name is Swedish for “husmann,” or “peasant,” as discussed above. Even so, the story of their later loss of even this humble tenant farm, and their move upriver to an even lowlier existence, will be worth exploring later. In the next post, we will look for more records of Olof’s parents, Erik Magnusson ans Stina Olsdotter (Swedish spelling of the surnames).

Out of Sweden, part 1
Out of Sweden, part 3