Ole Larson's Folks

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There is now a “help” page that I hope lives up to its name. “About the Site” contains a description of the two-part site, and tips for navigating around. Please check it out by clicking here, or access the page under “Info” in the top menu, or in the sidebar with other featured pages.

Born in Tretten, Norway, on this date in 1790: third great-grandfather Peder Olsen Glomme-Ødegaarden. His daughter Marit married Samuel Jørgensen Bjerke and immigrated to Wisconsin with him, where they eventually changed their surname to Samuelson(!). Top photo: stone ruins at the Ødegaard farm, taken on my visit in 2011. Below: looking across Ødegaard’s fields toward the Bjerke farm. Read more …

Bjerke from Odegaarden

Sadly noting the Feb. 23 passing of Uncle Ivan, my lifelong friend, mentor in family history studies, and the last of the five Larson brothers. Shown above in his WW2 uniform; Ivan was in the trenches at the Battle of the Bulge. Read more … Ivan’s obituary is on the website of Mountain View Funeral Home at this link.

Ivan’s and Eleanor Ferris’ 1946 wedding date was noted on Feb. 16. Aunt Eleanor is currently in skilled nursing care at Tacoma Lutheran.

1946 Ivan El Wed port

Finally, a snapshot of three brothers made in 2002, just before Vernon’s passing. Vernon (seated), Bob, Ivan.

2003 Vern Bob Ivan

R.I.P., uncles!

Here is the conclusion of a lengthy profile I just finished of Helene Olsdatter. The longer piece is an update of several earlier posts, along with more recent discoveries.

Helene’s death certificate, and Larsons and Slettens 1985,  give her father’s name as Ole Lien, a farm name that does not appear in the records of her birth and childhood in Norway. I took that in stride, as just one of the many liberties that immigrants took with their names. But cousin Sheila found two entries in findagrave.com that suggest an alternative explanation. Follow this link to view the complete findagrave memorials.

J and O Lien

The graves are at Coon Valley, only ten miles from Coon Prairie, but not big on my radar, as there is no known family connection there, closer than about third cousin. My guess is that settlers in Coon Valley were from a different part of Norway, and spoke a different dialect, than those in Coon Prairie.

Keep in mind that Helene probably spoke poor English, and Norwegian-speakers in Wisconsin were dying out by the time she died in 1927. My current theory is that the person filling out her death certificate may have somehow conflated the two families. Note that the “Ole” here is only one year older than Helene. Johannes is in the correct age range, but that would mean Ole was Helene’s brother, and Helene would be a Johanesdatter, not an Olsdatter.

Now, referring back to the marriage record above, Helene’s father in that document is Ole “Bretlong.” That is quite close to the name I found in Norway, Ole Johansen “Brettingen.” It is my conclusion (subject to correction) that the Liens buried at Coon Valley are 1) not related to Helene Olsdatter, but 2) were the source of an error on her death certificate.

On her headstone, her name is spelled “Hellina,” rounding out the four known variants.

1927 Hellina O stone

1874-2009 Brush cr best

Brush Creek Church , near Ontario, Wisconsin

 To read the complete profile of Helene Olsdatter, click here.

No, Really!!!

Thanks to this contribution from Sheila Geier, I now have documents that spell Ms. Olsdatter’s given name as Helene, Helena, Hellina, and now Lena! Behold, Ole Larson’s marriage registration of 1886.

1886 Ole Lena marr.

Bride’s name: Lena Olson. Just another routine variant, except now we enter into a whole genre of popular jokes.

Some other variant names in this document: Olson, because “…datter” was too foreign. Groom’s father, Lars Larson. Not correct at all, but understandable reasoning by the registrar. If Ole’s last name was Larson, then his father’s last name must be the same.

Father of the bride: Ole Bretlong. This must be a variant  of Brettingen, the farm in Norway where Helene was born. I am still leaning toward the idea that Ole Lien, the father’s name on Helene’s death certificate, might be a flat-out mistake. Mother’s name Anna Hass (or Hans?), compared to Anne Hansdatter in the Norwegian records.

Another reinforcement of my pronouncement on spelling: it’s all over the place. Don’t depend on it to prove, nor especially to disprove, anything.

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