Sunday, September 4, 2011

Anna Hornnes, Childhood Memories

Lunnen farm, Hornnes, Norway ca 1870
[Photograph courtsey of Alf Georg Kjetså]

This photograph shows Lunnen farm taken probably around 1870 with the Hornnes Church across the street. The oldest son from the first marriage, Notto Mikalsen Hornnes is sitting on a horse drawn wagon, Anne Gundersdatter (2nd wife) is holding the hand of a little girl, next is a daughter from the first marriage then Mikal Alfsen holding the hand of a young boy, a dog is resting on the ground, and another daughter from the first marriage. Note the laundry drying on the fence. I love this picture because it is such a perfect glimpse into what life was like more than a hundred thirty years ago.

As mentioned earlier Anna Hornnes kept a journal and wrote a life history so we are very fortunate to have the story of part of her early years as well as her later life written in her own words. When we visited Norway Odd and Ruth Svantrøm took us up to Hornnes to see the farm, the church, and the smaller farm Espetveit where Anna was born and lived. Anna had told her children that in the winter when the snow was so deep that the drifts came up to the second story windows in the little red house that she would ski out her bedroom window down the hill to go to school. The mountainside is quite steep and some farms had the barns built right up against the hills with sod roofs so the goats could eat the grass off the roof.

Looking out the way Anna would have skied to school at Espetveit.

This stabbur (storage building on pillars) built in 1642 and partially visible on the right side of the black and white photograph at the top is still standing at Lunnen. Note the downward facing logs holding the building up off the ground. These were placed in such a way to discourage rats and mice from getting into the storage area. Odd Svanstrøm is pointing out features of the building including the carved initials of the owner and date it was erected on the lintel. CQ standing by the steps was 9 years old at the time.

We came across this second larger structure when we were driving up the valley. While not one of our family farms it does show the sod roof and has a comparison size value with the van parked in front of it.

“April 1887, Norway, Europe.

“I will try to put things down as they really happened from the first clear facts, I was three years of age. It was in April, and a lot of snow was left on the ground; but in a few warm spots we could see flowers peeping out of the snow and patches of green grass. I was very tired of the snow, so I decided to take my shoes and sox off and pick some of the violets and blaavis* and caught my first bad cold, it turned into pneumonia and I very nearly died, but mother was a splendid nurse, so I came through fine.

“My first memory of my home is very clear and vivid. A log cabin, one good sized room with two big windows, flower pots, and glowing bright flowers all year, it made it look so homelike and sweet. Kitchen was large with a big fireplace and the biggest blackest kettle I ever saw hanging on a big iron hook. Then we had a big “best room” or parlor, only used for company, and an attic and one bedroom upstairs. “Mother married man who had been a widower for six years and who had twelve children with his first wife**. When he married again his property had to be divided, so he and mother moved onto one of the farms he owned. There they raised nine children, then moved to the smaller farm where my brother Mikal and I were born. So you see I am the baby of twenty-three children. Mother had eleven and my Dad was 80 years old the winter I was born, mother was 46.

“The next clear memories are when I was five years old. My Dad caught a bad cold, was in bed six weeks and died. He was then 85. A great many people came, and I was not allowed to go to the graveyard as it was early spring and very slushy and cold. From then til I was ten things went on very quietly. Mother took trips for a week or two to see her other married children. That gave me lots of confidence in myself, as I was left all alone to look after the home, and milk two cows, feed and take care of everything. These trips always were taken in the summertime so I could be out of doors and have the neighbors children to play with, when I had time. Mother was always pleased with my efforts when she came back.

“If the children had time to come home for a week or two, to help with the work, many did so, but off and on Mother had to hire a man to do the heavy work, but we sure done a lot of it ourselves. Mother was always busy, inside and out, blessed with wonderful health, a fine sense of humor, we got on splendidly, always.

“A sister came home to get ready to get married, and then we did get something to do. I’ll always remember the excitement, and all the wonderful food, cakes, and candy. The home had to be made over. I can see the wallpaper now, silver maple leaves, oh my, never since have I seen anything so lovely as that room when it was all ready for the wedding party. A big open fire, it was summer, but the evenings were cold. I can’t see how mother got room for all the overnight guests. The party lasted three days and nights. It made us feel pretty flat and empty when Jorand her her nice curly headed husband had gone bag and baggage."

Jorand and Olav Knutsen Lauvrak with two of their four children, Knut (born 1895) and Birte also known as Bibbi (1896). Jorand and Olav were married 30 October 1894.
[Photo courtsey of Alf Georg Kjetså]

"So the childhood days went by til all Mother’s boys and girls were married off. Four boys and seven girls. I often saw mother wipe her eyes with the tip of her apron, and I’d ask if she had a toothache or headache. “No, my dear, only a heartache, kind of lonely for the children, but I must not be foolish, as all is well with them.” How clearly this comes back to me now as I too have had some of that heartache and lonely feeling.

“January 20, 1900. At 14 years old, I had finished grade school and two years of High School. So now I felt quit grown up and wanted to get a job and earn my own money. Mother and I had been all by ourselves for four to five years. My youngest brother, Mikal, had a job quite a ways from home, and now her only chick wanted to try her wings too. But mother loved to travel, so now she could have a chance to go, no one to hold her back. So she said I might get a job if I wanted to. My first job was to help in the store or home, or just anything that had to be done. I got along fine until a big boob of a farm boy wanted to marry me right off. So I stayed six months, by that time my sister Anna wanted me to come and help her, so I packed my few belongings and set off the the Sta*** a mile or so. In Norway they have the most beautiful railway stations I ever seen anywhere. My sister’s home was up on a hillside, R. Sta a stones throw from the house close to a wonderful river with rippling cascades of water falls, a truly beautiful place. I spent one and half years with her. Very happy years too.”


* blaavis = also spelled blåveis is a blue anemone, flower of the crowfoot family having lobed or divided leaves and showy flowers without petals but with conspicuous, often colored, sepals.

** Mikal Alfsen was first married to Ragnhild Nottosdatter Hornnes. His second wife, Anne Gundersdatter Uleberg was the mother of Anna Hornnes.

*** Sta = railway station

No comments:

Post a Comment