Thursday, September 29, 2011

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 6

Tveit Church, Aust Agder, Norway, ca 1900

This card from circa 1900 shows the church at Tveit with what appears to be the congregation or part of the congregation dressed in national costume. The caption at the top says that it is the Tveit Church with Alume, which suggests that this might be a confirmation class although some of the children are pretty young looking. I liked it because it does show the people and they are dressed up in the national costume. Also it is possible to see just how steep the countryside is with the hills in back of the church. Tveit is located in Setesdal north of Kristiansand but south and east of Evje og Hornnes.

Several years ago I became acquainted John Galteland (Børuf Johnsen Galteland married Åslaug Mikalsdatter Hornnes a daughter of Mikal Alfsen from his first marriage). John contacted me saying he was interested in learning more about the family because as far as he knew he and one other were the only Galtelands in the United States. We did find a connection, just not where we expected it and although he continued to refer to me as his cousin we were actually quite far removed as cousins. We corresponded for some time and even had some pleasant telephone conversations. I am sorry to report that John has since passed away.

In the process of researching his connection to our family I came across the following story in O.O. Uleberg’s Horness I book, pp 423-424. I always wonder what it was like to live back in those times and I thought this interview interesting as a view into the past. Included are also some other postcards from Setesdal dating from the 1900s.

Setesdal between Valle and Bykle, Norway, ca 1900

Here follows a few thoughts taken from an interview by Jon Løyland in 1925 with Eivind Telleivson Galteland-Kjetså, who was the husband of a grandniece of Mikal Alfsen.* Concerning Monen in Galteland where Eivind grew up he says:

“But the land was a poor place. We had a little corn and some apples. But we had a pretty good living. We had one cow and father was a waterman up in the valley all summer long until harvest time in the fall. And he thought we lived well. He was 74 years old and did his own work.

“There was not much school in those days. Some would go just 8 weeks to school. When I [Eivind] was 14 years old we were taken out of school to help. I went around with Jørund Lauvland, but he was little younger than me. He was extremely good at the lessons and also a very good skier. One time when we were in school at Omland we had to ask permission to travel across the ice. The ice was very thick and strong then. The schoolmaster came with us and we kept pace with him. On the way he [the schoolmaster] picked a birch stick and taught us catechism lessons and would be obliged to use it on the children who would not learn. Jørund had read his part, and so could Salve Galteland, but he was crying (for fear of the stick) so Jørund broke the stick up. The teacher would have us tell who broke the stick, but we would not. Notto Lauvland and I had our hands on the table, but Jørund wouldn’t have us whipped. There was an old woman’s house where the teacher took us, and so whipped us a time. The schoolmaster could not teach Jørund anything after that. Then a pastor came to the school. He said to the schoolmaster ‘You can be glad, you are rid of him now, he is working everywhere.’ Jørund was brave, but he had sometimes a humorous side that was so quiet. He was always straightforward and honest to associate with.”

Girl milking a goat, ca 1900

Eivind also told about how he spent his summer sheepherding—

“When I was a small boy I went herding in the summertime. The payment for herding was the cost of new clothes. For two years I had one lamb in addition to some food for a part, one counted on it. In the autumn we made new clothing, all the same. The first year I got low shoes, the next year I obtained my top boots. That was like one handy thing.”

Mordfjord**, Norway, ca 1900

Eivind learned to sew too—

“When I first began to sew, I was very eager to do it. Jackets were short then, they were called ‘short jackets.’ The vest was covered as now; some were perhaps short then too. Both the jacket and vest were so short that the shirt could be seen underneath, but that was the style then. Trousers were . . . I could just remember a pair of knee pants. The socks were white, and so they shrank easily. We sewed women’s clothing also, lace bodice and jacket; the women themselves sewed skirts. Skirts had gathering where it did some good. The bodice was much like a vest.”



* Eivind Telleivson Galteland-Kjetså was married to one of the granddaughters of Mikal Alfsen's brother Abraham Alfsen Roland-Abusland-Kjetså.

** It is a little hard to see because it is crossed out but the card originally identified this place as Mordfjord. Someone has written "Hest hyl Sætesdal" across the card in ink. Google Translate makes this "Horse Howl or Screech, Sætesdal" but I think the hyl in this case should be closer to høl and would translate more like a place called Horse Hole as in a pool in a river or stream located in Setesdal. Mordfjord itself translates to murder/death or dangerous water/lake. It certainly looks dangerous with the water rushing down into the pool. I was fascinated by the little cabins perched right in the midst of all that surging water.

Once again, the translation of the interview with Eivind is mine so I apologize for any errors and hope that our Norwegian cousins will help me make corrections where necessary. I am not sure if the new Google translate will help with the translations from Hornnes I since many of these stories are written in the dialect of the area and may be slightly different than bokmål or nynorsk.

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