Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Alfhild Thompson Skage

(Harriet) Alfhild or Alfhild Dorthea Thompson, ca 1891

Alfhild was the youngest child of Didrik Andreas Thompson and Sigrid/Serine Berentine Andersdatter. She was between the ages of 8 and 12 when her mother died in 1901. She remained in Norway until 21 October 1911 when she left to join her brother, Didrik “Dick” Thompson in America. She traveled from Norway to Scotland leaving from Glasgow on the ship Grampian and arriving at Quebec, Canada then went by train to Seattle. Like her brother she originally stayed with her Aunt Gjertine Elisabeth and Uncle Halvor Gjurmundson Strandrud who lived in Seattle. She did attend Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma for a period time taking classes to learn English.

Alfhild, ca 1908

I am not certain but I think Alfhild may have met her husband through her brother and his connections with the Bergen Club. Dick was very active in the Club and also sang with the Norwegian Male Chorus. There were quite a few people who came from Bergen who had settled in the Ballard area of Seattle. They had a lot of activities and it seems reasonable that he may have asked his sister to accompany him on occasion. Olaf Pedersen Skage left Norway in 1910 following his older brother Samson Pedersen Skage who came in 1906 and preceding his younger brother Anders (Americanized to Andrew) Pedersen Skage who came in 1914. All three brothers were carpenters.

As I start to really dig into this everything begins unraveling but I think I have figured out what is going on here. Since the participants are now all deceased perhaps they will forgive me for pulling their secrets out from the closet. It does appear that there is only one Alfhild and her name was Alfhild Dorthea not Harriet Alfhild as is written on the photograph of her as a young child (above). She was born 3 December 1889 and christened on 6 June 1890 at Mariakirken, Bergen, Norway. On the passenger list her age is given as 21 years and her birth year is said to be 1890. After she meets and falls in love with Olaf who was born in 1892, however, she all of a sudden becomes a year younger than he is, or born in 1893. She remains consistent with her age the rest of her life saying that she was born in 1893. I couldn’t quite understand why she would travel by herself from Seattle to Helena, Montana to get married until I looked at her daughter’s birth date of 28 August 1917 or only five months after her marriage to Olaf. Her daughter, Helen, alternates between 1917 and 1918 as her birth year on various documents. It probably wouldn’t make that much difference today but apparently it did then.

Olaf and Alfhild were married in Helena, Lewis & Clark County, Montana on 22 March 1917. By June of 1917 they were living in Great Falls, Montana where the World War I Draft Registration papers show Olaf working as a carpenter for the Anaconda Copper Mining Company. His brother, Sam and his family, are also living in Great Falls at that time. Olaf was probably already working for Anaconda and traveled about 90 miles to Helena to get married before returning to Great Falls where their only child, Helen Louise was born a few months later. They were still living in Great Falls for the 1920 census but in 1927 the city directory shows that they have moved to Oakland, Alameda, California. They remained in the Bay Area of California for the rest of their lives. Olaf died in 1959 and Alfhild in 1974.

Alfhild and Dick had a half-brother named Gjert Didriksen. I did receive a photograph of Gjert from his granddaughter. We both think there is a resemblance between Alfhild and Gjert. What do you think?

Alfhild, ca 1911

Gjert Didriksen as a young man
[photo courtesy of Johanne Sognnæs]

We are piecing together a list of all the children of Didrik Andreas Thomsen that I will post as another update later. Thanks to Johanne Sognnæs for helping compile and verify the family information and for the picture of her grandfather.

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