Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Marie Mikalsdatter Hornnes

Marie Mikalsdatter Hornnes, born 1875
[photo courtesey of Alf Georg Kjetså]

Just as in each large family there is one like Store Anna who becomes the glue, the magnet, whose home becomes the gathering place for the extended family so too do large families often have one child who remains unmarried, takes care of the aging parents or the widowed parent. In the family of Mikal Alfsen and Anne Gundersdatter that appears to have been their eighth child, Marie, who was born 9 September 1875 in Hornnes, Aust Agder, Norway. Marie did not marry she remained with her widowed mother at Espetveit and helped to run the small mountain farm there. She was 15 when her father died in 1890 and her mother was left with the four youngest of her eleven children to take care of including Marie. It must have been a lot of hard work. From time to time they found it necessary to hire a man to help with the heavy farm work. Espetveit was in a fairly remote mountain area so Marie would not have had many opportunities to meet other young people her own age.

Although Marie did not marry she did have three children with three different men, Mikal Pedersen Espetveit born 2 February 1896, Martin Olsen Espetveit born 7 July 1900, and Lily Ladousdatter Espetveit born 23 June 1903. It is impossible to know now why or what happened but from what one of her granddaughters said Marie was not treated kindly by most of the people. Part of it must certainly have been her illegitimate children but I also wondered if a little bit of it was jealousy since her picture shows her to be quite a lovely, beautiful woman. It must have taken a lot of courage and determination to live under those circumstances. Aside from her mother, her sister Store Anna was the only one who loved her unconditionally and never treated her poorly always welcoming her at Gåseflå. The granddaughters said that both Marie and her children considered Store Anna a saint and an angel. Marie’s son, Martin, spent a lot of time at Gåseflå with his cousins.

The front of the house at Espetveit as it was in 1982 with the couple who lived there and Ruth & Odd Svanstrøm

There were two small houses and a barn at Espetveit in 1982. I do not know if this is the original house where Marie, her mother and siblings lived, but the couple, a brother and sister, living there did say that the front porch step was made of the old mill stone from the original farm house. We did not learn the woman's name but we did learn later that the man was named Martin Espetveit though I do not think he was Marie's son who was said to have passed away in 1973. It was an interesting conversation since they did not speak English and we did not know any Norwegian. Odd Svanstrøm acted as guide and translator apologizing because it was difficult for him to understand the rural dialect and he had not used any English either for a number of years. Martin was very excited to meet us because he had known so many people who had left for America but none who had returned. We felt a little like celebrities. Unbeknownst to us, Else Marie Roland was watching from the second house and did not come out and talk to us at that time. She did know English and we lamented later via letters that we did not have the chance to meet. Else Marie was one of Marie's granddaughters.

Looking between the two houses at Espetveit, 1982

Mikal Espetveit died at age 23 years 22 November 1919 in St. John, Newfoundland, Canada. Martin died in October 1973. Lily married Rolf Norman Jakobsen. They had five daughters: Else Marie, Arnhild, Ellinor, Bjørg, and Ann Berit. Lily died 11 July 1985.

Marie died at age 44 ½ years 23 February 1920. After Marie died her mother, Anne Gundersdatter, moved to Gåseflå where she lived until her death in 1922.

I do not have pictures of Mikal or Martin but Lily’s daughter, Else Marie Roland sent me this photo of her mother taken in the 1970s.

Lily Espetveit, ca 1970s
[photo courtesy of Else Marie Roland]



Since I originally posted this I have found that Martin Espetveit married Anna Olsdatter Dåsvand who was born 1898 and died the same year as Martin (1973). They had one daughter Klara Marie Espetveit.

Lily married a second time to Gunvald Heien Jonsgård following the death of her first husband Rolf Norman Jakobsen

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