Saturday, March 10, 2012

Kari Mikalsdatter Hornnes

Hans Mosby & Kari Mikalsdatter Hornnes, 1898
[photo courtesy of Alf Georg Kjetså]

This is the wedding photograph of Hans Mosby (sometimes called Bakken) and Kari Mikalsdatter Hornnes. Kari was born 1 May 1878 and was the ninth child of Mikal Afsen and Anna Gundersdatter Hornnes. If Lil Anna’s journal recollections are correct Kari would have been the last of their eleven children born on the big farm of Lunnen in Hornnes, Aust Agder, Norway, the youngest two children having been born at Espetveit. Kari would have been twelve the year her father died and certainly old enough to help her widowed mother and older sister, Marie, with the chores of the small mountain farm. She married Hans Mosby the son of Gunvald Hansen Mosby and Guri Jensdatter on 21 April 1898. Hans was born 13 September 1870 at Oddernæs, Vest Agder, Norway. Kari would have been twenty years old the year she married and Hans would have been 28.

Hans is listed as a foreman on the railroad line on the 1900 census and they were living at Bjørndalen in Hægeland at that time. By 1910 Hans is listed as a railway worker married but living by himself at Valle in Froland.
Hans was one of the few people Lil Anna did not like very much. She thought he did not treat her sister well and she thought he drank too much. She also worried about Kari because she knew she was unwell, worked too hard and had several children to tend. Although we see that Hans had a good job with the railway line and Lil Anna did not drink (or I suspect approve of it at all) so Hans may not have been as disagreeable as she thought. Anyone who was as ill as Kari and had seven children to tend would cause worry in a loving sister no matter how well her husband treated her or not.

I have been unable to locate Kari in 1910. There are conflicting reports concerning her death. Some say she died in 1910 and others say it was as late as 1916. In any event, we know she was ill with tuberculosis as early as 1907/1908 when Lil Anna visited Norway and that several of her children also had the disease.

The children of Kari and Hans:

1. Gunvald Hansen Mosby or Bakken, born 2 October 1898

2. Agnes Hansdatter Mosby or Bakken, born 30 September 1900, died 1919

3. Gudrun Hansdatter Mosby or Bakken, born 12 November 1901, died 1913
4. Mikal Hansen Mosby or Bakken, born 4 February 1905, died 1967. Never married.
5. Ågot Hansdatter Mosby or Bakken, born 27 August 1907. Ågot married but I do not have the name of her husband or the names of any children they may have had.
6. Håkon Hansen Mosby or Bakken, born about 1909, died as a little child.

7. Hildur Hansen Mosby or Bakken, born about 1910/1911, died as an infant or small child.

The children are not found with Hans on the 1910 census making me wonder what happened to them. Was Kari in some sort of sanatorium or infirmary before she died and if so were some of the ill children there as well? Gunvald, the oldest son, would have been between twelve and eighteen depending on when she died so it is more or less reasonable to think he could have left home and been working on another farm given the circumstances. The next two girls look to have been ill since they died as teenagers. The next two, Mikal and Ågot lived to adulthood. The last two Håkon and Hildur died as infants or tiny children.

Tuberculosis (TB) was a infectious, common, debilitating, dreadful wasting disease of the time period. It was frequently referred to as consumption and can be found as early as Biblical times. The most prevalent form was in the lungs but it could be found in the throat, stomach, or other places in the body such as the kidneys and liver. Many, many people contracted the disease that was spread mainly by air contagion through coughing by those who were infected. If not treated it was fatal although it usually took years for a person to die from it. When Kari had TB there was little in the way of treatment other than rest, sunshine, and certain foods.

My grandfather, Axel, Lil Anna’s husband had active TB at the time of his death. When he would come to visit us my mother was in a panic and boiled all the dishes and flatware he used. One day she came home from shopping and found me sitting on my grandfather’s lap while he fed me from his plate. My mother was extremely distressed but no matter what they said my grandfather just could not believe that he was so ill or that a simple thing like feeding a child from a plate could be so dangerous. I did not get TB but that incident was a terror my mother did not get over for a very long time.

For more than 50 years TB has been successfully treated with a combination of drugs. Not as many people get TB today as they did when Kari had it but unfortunately those who get it today get a more resistant variety that is becoming harder to treat since the former medications do not work or at least do not work as well as they did making people with weak immune systems more susceptible and less easy to treat.

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