Monday, January 30, 2012

Klara Kristofa Landaas

Klara Kristofa Landaas, ca 1903

The Landaas family was a close-knit group and often had picnics and family gatherings together. On one occasion they had a series of photographs taken dressed up in outlandish hats, ribbons, clothes, and making silly poses. In this picture we see Klara with fans for a hat and collar. Klara came to America with her mother, the youngest brother and two of her sisters in 1901.

Samuel Olai Hillwang, ca early 1900s

Klara Kristofa, ca early 1900s

This picture was taken shortly after all the Landaas family was in Seattle. Note the long sølje pin at her neck.

Klara married another Norwegian immigrant, Samuel Hellevang (Americanized to Hillwang), on 1 August 1903 in Seattle. They had five children:

1. Violet born 27 March 1904 and died the next day.
2. Thelma born 17 December 1906, died 15 February 1989
3. Helen Karen born 3 December 1908, died 15 June 1985
4. Lillian Florence born 29 March 1911, died 28 August 1997
5. Robert born 13 Jun 1913, tragically died 3 February 1922 from complications due to diabetes.

Sam Hillwang, Clara Lorig, Klara Hillwang, Karen Landaas, Trygve Landaas, Nora Johannsen, Petra Lee. Children: Thelma, Helen, Lillian and Robert Hillwang, ca 1917

Klara was the fourth child of Peder Landaas and Karen Olsdatter Kalvetræ. She was born 23 January 1877 and christened at Hosanger, Bergen, Norway. More sober (one might even suggest morose) than her two older sisters she was sure that she would never see her sisters again once they left Norway for America. She wrote a very sad note to Mikkeline telling of her fears that the family would never see her again. But Maggie and Petra had a different idea and by 1902 they had helped the entire family come to Seattle.

Klara’s husband, Samuel Olai Hellevang was born 13 July 1876 in Forde, Sogn og Fjordane, Norway. He was a bricklayer by profession. When he came through immigration he had to choose his surname and that caused some consternation. The Immigration officer asked him if he wanted to be Sam Hell, Sam Hill, or Sam Wang? The name in Norway had been the farm name Hellevang. Farm names tend to be descriptive: Helle for a slab of rock, Vang for a grassy meadow area, thus Hellevang was rocky but also a place with a grassy meadow. None of the choices offered him came close to meaning the same as his farm name hence the compromise to something completely different Hillwang.

I can remember both Aunt Klara and Uncle Sam fairly well. I am not sure how many times we visited them but I do remember on their 50th wedding anniversary a party was held at their home in Ballard. It is crazy what things kids will remember. Aside from all the people the thing I remembered the most was the toilet. I am not sure if they had the house built or if the indoor plumbing was added after the fact but while the bathtub was inside the house in a bathroom the toilet was in a funny little closet of a room on the porch. I think my brother and our cousins and I spent a good deal of time going back and forth to the toilet just because of the novelty of the thing. Aunt Klara was said to have refused to have a toilet inside the house and that is why the little closet was built on the porch.

Uncle Sam died 21 March 1960, Aunt Klara passed away 11 April 1966.

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