Ole Larson's Folks

On this date in 1877, our second great-grandfather Samuel Jørgensen Bjerke departed Oslo on his journey to America. With him on the steamship Hero (pictured below) were his wife Marit and their three youngest children. Their eldest daughter Anne (our great-grandmother) had immigrated ten years earlier, and was already settled in “Norwegian Valley” Wisconsin, with Ole Larson and their budding family.


SS Hero of the Wilson Line

Like thousands of immigrants during this period, their route took them first to Hull, England. They then traveled by train across Britain to Liverpool, where they boarded a larger transatlantic steamer. Read more …

Of particular note is the fluidity of the family’s surname. In the emigrant list above, all five family members have the papa’s patronym, Jørgensen. This is a departure from the old tradition, in which his wife would have kept her own patronym (Pedersdatter), while the children’s would be based on their father, i.e. Samuelsen/-datter. You can see that this tradition was followed for the family preceding them on the emigrant list, that of Martin Olsen.

More remarkable is the fact that in America, while the children reverted to their “normal” (but Americanized) surname of Samuelson, the parents also adopted that name. So Samuel Jørgensen became Samuel “Samuelson,” although Samuel was not his father’s name, nor that of any known ancestor. I have found no other case of this particular kind of name-switch. Read more …

1880 Samuel Stone1i DSCN2373r

Brush Creek cemetery, Vernon County, Wisconsin

31 May
2 June