Thursday, June 28, 2012

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 45

Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway

This is another Axel Eliasson postcard #5016 published in Stockholm, Sweden in the early 1900s.  Spitsbergen (Spidsbergen as it is spelled on the card or Spitzbergen as it was spelled in English up until the 1920s) is a large island belonging to Norway and located between the Arctic Ocean, Greenland Sea, and the Norwegian Sea and is part of the Svalbard archipelago.  Like many Norwegian place names it is descriptive and means “pointed mountains.” 

Spitsbergen has an Arctic climate but is still warmer than other places at the same latitude; nevertheless, the summer temperatures average between 39 and 43 degrees F or about 4 degrees C with snow and ice most if not all of the year.  The long dark winters are well below freezing.  It is a breeding ground for many seabirds and also has polar bears, reindeer, Arctic foxes and marine mammals such as whales, dolphins, seals and walruses.  There are six national parks that protect the environment.

During the 17th and 18th centuries Spitsbergen was used as a whaling base.  I wondered if the ship pictured on the card was a whaler.  It does have a smaller boat hanging off the side but the ship itself seems little to be a whaler.  Not much in the way of whaling is done now.  Today the main industries are coal mining, research and tourism.  Perhaps one of the better-known facilities, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, is located on Spitsbergen near the main town of Longyearbyen.  As of 2010 more than ½ million crop plant seeds are stored in the vault. 

Spitsbergen has a population of approximately 2700 persons mostly Norwegians but also a few Russians, Germans, Swedes, Poles, Ukrainians, and Thais.  It is a demilitarized zone so there can be no military installations.  It has virtually no crime making it one of the safest places on Earth to live.

Several stories and films have been set in Svalbard including the fantasy book by Philip Pullman made into a movie The Golden Compass featuring armored polar bears; Orion’s Belt a Norwegian film showing the region’s icebergs and mountain ranges; the World War II story North of Danger by Dale H. Fife; Operation Fritham a thriller mystery by Monica Kristensen; Dark Matter a ghost story by Michelle Paver, and others. 

For more information see:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Provence -- Nîmes

 Roman Arena

Once in Nîmes we visited two more Roman buildings, the arena or amphitheater shown above and a Roman temple.  Originally built about 70 AD this arena was remodeled in 1863 so that it could be used as a bullring.   In 1989 a movable cover and a heating system were added.  

In the time of the Romans there were games and gladiators in this arena today it is still used for various public events, rock concerts and French bullfights.  There had been a bullfight the day before and a crew of workers with a forklift was cleaning up.  Unfortunately for us as tourists it meant that some areas under and behind the arena were off limits while the clean up was in progress so we didn’t get to see the places where the gladiators would have been suited up and waited for their turns in the ring. 

Arena ring

The arena is quite large the central space is not a perfect circle, more an oval shape 336 feet by 331 feet.  There are 34 rows of seats with a capacity of 16,300 spectators.  The original stone seats now have protective wooden boards on which to sit and walk to get to the other levels.  Narrow and not terribly comfortable seats to sit on but out of the wind and each seat seemed to have a good view.  Some of us were happy to learn that in French bullfighting the bull survives.  A ribbon or flower is attached to the bull’s horns and the object is to get the ribbon not to poke, prod, and stab the poor bull to death.  There is still considerable excitement and danger to the bullfighter, however, since these black bulls are very big and agitated. 

Arena corridor

Roman Temple

Our guide, Angelique, called this the “Square House” in English and then said it was neither square nor a house.  The French title is Maison Carrée, which I think means long (oblong) house.  It is a very well preserved Roman temple built around 16 BC.  One of the reasons it has survived the years in such good condition is that in the 4th century when many of these old temples were being destroyed it was rededicated and used as a Christian church.  It has been used as a meeting hall, a canon’s house, a stable for horses during the French Revolution, city archives storehouse, and after 1823 a museum.  Currently the small windowless interior is used to show tourist oriented 3-D films of Nîmes’ heroes and history.  If horses actually went up there it must have had a ramp for them to climb when it was being used as a stable because those steps are narrow and very steep.  I cannot visualize a horse climbing up or down them at all. 

Closer view of the Corinthian columns

Portico ceiling with rosettes and acanthus leaves relief carvings

Trivia:  The Virginia State capitol building is modeled after the Maison Carée.  Thomas Jefferson, who had been minister to France in 1785, had a stucco model of Maison Carée and he used that when he designed the Virginia capitol building.

Seal or logo of Nîmes

Every so often the sidewalks and streets would have these little seals either imbedded on the pavement or on the top of posts showing the symbol for Nîmes--the palm tree and the crocodile.  Mrs. Gimlet says that is because Nîmes was originally a Roman settlement populated by soldiers who had served in Egypt. 


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Provence -- Le Pont du Gard

Le Pont du Gard – Roman Bridge & Aqueduct 
We left Avignon for Nîmes in a large tour bus having acquired a driver named Bruno who would remain with us for the remainder of our trip.  One of the stops we made along the way was Pont du Gard. 

First view of Pont du Gard

The Romans built this three tiered bridge and aqueduct beginning in about 19 BC and taking between five and 18 years to complete.  Built of limestone blocks weighing as much as 6 tons that fit together without cement or mortar the design of the bridge has allowed it to survive several violent floods including one in 1958 that submerged the whole of the lower tier.  Pont du Gard is the best-preserved section of the entire aqueduct.  Driving up in the bus we didn’t see the bridge until we got out and started walking.  The first sight of it was breathtaking.  It is so huge and so old.

This large aqueduct supplied millions of gallons water daily to Nîmes from a spring near Uzès about 31 miles away.  For much of that distance (22 miles) the water flowed underground the rest of the way the water flowed through a channel on a wall or in this case the top tier of the bridge.  The water channel was covered with stone slabs.  The channel itself is wide enough for one person to walk inside so that it could be cleaned periodically otherwise it would get clogged with mineral deposits and vegetation.  It is believed that the aqueduct was used to supply water to the city and homes of Nîmes up until the 9th century.  The stones protruding from the columns in between the arches were used to support scaffolding during the construction phase.  The structure is an amazing engineering and stone masonry feat.  Craftsmen who later visited the site would sometimes carve their names and the date into a stone such as is seen below dated 1715.  All the stones fit precisely with instructions still visible on some of them showing which way the stones were to be placed. 

A roadway or walkway across the river was located on the middle tier.  For a time during the Middle Ages tolls were levied on the bridge by local authorities but that might have been a trade off because the lords and bishops who exacted the tolls were responsible for the upkeep.  Today Pont du Gard is an important tourist destination.  Unfortunately, time and erosion are causing the bridge to settle and tilt a very tiny bit each year so it may not survive another 2,000 years.

Middle tier of Pont du Gard

This is a view of the middle tier footbridge.  The people walking at the far end of the bridge look like little ants and give a suggestion as to the size of the bridge.

Graffiti dated 1715

View of the river from the walkway on the Pont du Gard

2000-year old olive tree

There were olive trees still growing nearby that had been planted at the time the bridge was constructed making them a little more than 2,000 years old.  This one certainly was weathered and old looking with its roots grabbing into the ground looking like it was hanging on for dear life.  It is hard to imagine anything living that long, isn’t it?

Sources:  Eyewitness Travel, pp. 130-131

Mrs. Gimlet has also posted about Pont du Gard, see:
And for a short video:

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tales from Gåseflå -- Gunnie Osmund

 Gunnie Osmun, ca 1911

After I posted the story about Gunnie Osmun I received a note from Inger Frøysaa whose father, Mikal, was Gunnie's half-brother.  Inger said she remembered a story told about Gunnie.  When she was a girl, before she left Norway, Gunnie was called Bitta (little girl) because she was so small and tiny when she was born.  The family story was that they spoke of her weighing about 800 gr. or approximately 2 lbs.  She was put in a shoebox filled with cotton and placed near the fireplace.  As is usually the case with oral history it really isn't possible to prove all the details.  

After this story was told Inger's father always said "And she got to be the strongest of them all."  Her mother, Randi, was a strong woman too.  After the birth she went back to the fields to finish her work. 

Thank you, Inger, it is always nice to add some family history stories!

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 44

Göta Canal, Sweden, ca 1900

This is an Axel Eliasson postcard #3309 published in Stockholm, Sweden early 1900s.  Like some of the other cards of this vintage it is another that was tinted and then reproduced in color. 

The Swedish Göta Canal links rivers and lakes across Sweden from Göteborg on the west to Söderköping on the Baltic Sea to the east making a continuous waterway of about 382 miles in total.  The canal itself is 118 miles long about half that length had to be dug or blasted with widths varying from 23 to 46 feet and a maximum depth of 9 feet.  There are 58 locks that can accommodate vessels up to 105 feet long, 21 feet wide having slightly less than a 9-foot draft.  The canal is sometimes called the “divorce ditch” because of all the trouble couples endure while trying to navigate the locks by themselves. 

The idea for a canal was suggested as early as the 1500s but it was not until 1810 that the project was actually financed and undertaken.  It took 22 years of effort by more than 58,000 workers to complete.  It opened in 1832 but with the railways arriving in 1855 the canal did not prove to be the hoped for economic success.  Trains were able to transport both goods and passengers more rapidly all year round while the canal was shut down in the winter months.  Bulk goods such as forest products, ore and coal that did not require rapid transportation were about the only items sent via the canal.  The canal is still used to transport some cargo but today it is primarily used for recreation and tourist pleasure cruises.  It is called Sveriges blå band or Sweden’s Blue Ribbon.  About two million people visit the canal each year.

For more information see:

Monday, June 18, 2012

Gunnie Osmun

Gunie/Gunnie Osmun and Lil Anna Hornnes, December 1911

Osmund Bårdsen Gåseflå was married twice.  His first wife was Randi Eilevsdatter Dalehepte and they were married in 1881.  Osmund and Randi had four children:

1.    Baard Osmundsen Gåseflå, born 12 August 1882

2.    Ragnhild Osmundsdatter Gåseflå, born 7 March 1884
3.    * Gunhild (Gunie/Gunnie) Osmun (Gåseflå), born 1887
4.    Mari Osmundsdatter Gåseflå, born 1 March 1890

Then Randi died at Gåseflå in Hægeland, Vest Agder, Norway in 1892. 

Osmund next married Anna Mikalsdatter Hornnes 25 October 1895.  She was sometimes called Store Anna since she had a younger sister also named Anna who was called Lil or Lill Anna.  When Anna and Osmund married his children with Randi were ages 13, 11, 8, and 5 so Anna had four children to take care of before she began having her own children with Osmund.  Osmund and Anna had five children:

1.    Mikal Osmundsen Gåseflå,  4 August 1896

2.    Ragnvald Osmundsen Gåseflå, 27 July 1898
3.    Arne Osmundsen Gåseflå, 3 December 1900
4.    Ragna Osmundsen Gåseflå, 13 June 1903
5.    Ogla Osmundsen Gåseflå, 20 December 1905

Lill Anna stayed with her sister Store Anna from time to time helping with the housework and the children.  She knew Gunnie, was close to her in age and was her friend.  Gunnie was one of several friends and relatives that Lill Anna persuaded to leave Norway and come to America.  Lill Anna had set up a sort of perpetual emigration fund that she and Axel continued after they married in 1912.  She would act as sponsor and pay the ticket then ask for repayment turning that money back into the fund and sponsoring the next person.  So far I have identified six people they helped in this manner (Sadie, Anna and Marie Stean, Gunnie Osmun, Anna and Oline Espetveit) and there may be others.  The Schroders also had a small house that they let out to new immigrants until they could get jobs and pay their own way.  


Sadie Stean, Anna Hornnes, Gunnie Osmun, Anna Stean, ca 1911

Lill Anna paid for Gunnie’s ticket and sponsored her in 1910.  Gunnie left Norway and came to Seattle in May of that year.  When she arrived in America she chose Osmun as her surname instead of the farm name of Gåseflå or the full patronymic of Osmundsdatter or Osmundsen.  Her given name is found written both as Gunie and Gunnie.  

In 1914 Gunnie and Marie Stean (Sadie’s sister) returned to Norway.  Marie was very ill and could not travel alone so Gunnie went with her and also had a trip home to Norway for a visit much the same as Lill Anna had done in 1907/1908.  Among the papers and pictures that Gunnie saved was the ship booklet from 1914 showing her return route from Norway to America.  By this time Gunnie had enough money to purchase a second-class ticket herself instead of steerage or third class so she had a nicer cabin than many.  When she came in 1910 she was 22 years old, did not know the language but had friends waiting to welcome her to her new home.  On her return trip in 1914 she was 26, knew English and had adapted to her new country. 

Route card

In addition to a list of the passengers the booklet contains the names of travel agents, shipboard regulations—where one could smoke, what kinds of bathing facilities, hours of salons, etc.  Arrival and departure dates were provided and the map above with the route indicated.  The route is especially interesting because it shows ports of entry in Nova Scotia, Canada and New York, USA.  Rather than stopping in England the ship picked passengers up in Kristiansand, Stavanger and Bergen then sailed directly from Bergen, Norway to North America over the top of Scotland.  The voyage took ten days.  Gunnie traveled on the S.S. Kristianafjord a Norwegian American Line ship built in 1912 and launched in 1913.  The ship could carry 1200 passengers, 100 first class, 250 second class, and 850 third class.  The ship was not in service very many years, she wrecked off Cape Race, Newfoundland in 1917.  No lives were lost but the ship broke up and was destroyed two weeks later in a storm.

SS Kristianafjord
[photo:  Wikipedia, postcard--see:]

By 1912 Lill Anna had married the Dane Axel Schroder who had a Swedish friend from his sailing days named Linus Raynald Swanson or L.R. as he was usually called.  Axel and Anna introduced Gunnie to L.R. and Rev. H. Stub married them on 7 January 1915.  I think Axel may have been a pretty good matchmaker as he also introduced Sadie Stean and Herbert Solwold, Anna Stean and Al Bensen, and Anna Espetviet and Ed Grodvig (perhaps others I don’t know about yet).

Gunnie, L.R. Swanson, and Lill Anna, ca 1915
L.R. and Gunnie purchased property for a farm in Central Valley near Silverdale, Washington and built a small house.  They had one child, Agnes, born 1923.  In 1937 they built a larger house and it still stands today looking much as it did when it was built.  Agnes married Lyle Allpress in 1943 and they had two sons and a daughter.  After her parents died Agnes and Lyle continued to work the farm and she lived there until her own death. 

The first Swanson house, Silverdale, Washington, ca 1920

The Swanson/Allpress farmhouse, 2006

In 2006 I took my mother out to the farm to visit Agnes.  Mom was 87, Agnes was 83, both in good health at that time.   They had not seen each other for many years and it was a fun day for all of us.  These pictures of the house and the farm are from that day.  Agnes is in the doorway and Mom is walking up to greet her in the photo above.

Fruit trees and vegetable bed ready to plant, 2006

In later years the farm was divided into four parts with the old farm house where Agnes and Lyle lived on one parcel and each of their three children with their own lots.  One son continues to farm the land the other brother and sister have town jobs but help with the farming as needed.  They still have chickens, Percheron horses, acreage for hay or alfalfa, a large vegetable and flower garden and fruit trees.  This, I think, is what is called sustainable small farming.  The three giant silos are a well known landmark and get dressed up as candles for Christmas holidays.  Many people stop by during the holidays to admire the decorations. 

Three silos, 2006

L.R. Swanson died in 1950, Gunnie in 1951.  Lyle died in 1992 and Agnes passed away in 2009.  In the years just before her death Agnes was busy organizing all the old pictures and trying to write a history of the farm to pass along to her children and grandchildren. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Alexander Lorig gravestone, update

Gravestone of Alexander and Rosa Lorig found in the Jewish cemetery at Gemünden, Rhein-Hunrück, Germany
[photo: sim friedhof.htm]

On 28 March 2012 there was a post titled:  "The gravestone of Alexander and Rosa Lorig" that included a photograph Stephan Lorig had sent of the gravestone.  The inscription on the stone is in Hebrew and although I did take it to my neighbor who is a Rabbi to see if it could be translated the image on the picture was not clear enough to do so.  Today I received a translation from another Lorig descendant, Ruth Mueller, and wanted to share it here as I know several have expressed an interest in knowing what the stone says.

"Here lie the man Alexander son of Mordechai who died on the 3rd of Tevet (4th month of the Jewish year) and his wife Reisechi (?) daughter of Palter who died on 9th of Tevet of the (Jewish) year 5677.*

"Beloved and pleasant in their life and in their death they were not parted (Samuel B, chapter 1, verse 23).  May their souls be bound in the bundle of the living (Jewish equivalent to R.I.P.)."

Thank you so much, Ruth, from all of us.  



* If I am understanding this correctly "the number of years on the Jewish calendar represents the number of years since creation, calculated by adding up the ages of the people in the Bible back to the time of creation."  Please see:

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Provence -- Avignon

Papal palace, Avignon, Provence, France
We left Paris for Provence traveling on the TGV (“bullet train”) going approximately 180 to 200 miles per hour.  Our ears popped from the speed but looking out the train window the scenery passed by more or less as it does in a car so it really didn’t seem like it was going that fast.  The train was wonderful, very comfortable.  Our guide, Angelique, said the train was the most stressful day for her because she had to make sure all 44 of  “you Americans and your big suitcases” got safely off the train in 3 minutes.  There was a slight hitch because one local passenger did not want to let the group get off first (as it turned out groups are supposed to have priority) and made rude remarks to Angelique who remained polite and calm and let the woman get off and take her 3 minute smoke break while the rest of us tried to keep focused on just getting off before the train started up for the next station.  Angelique confessed after we did get off that she had made friends with the conductor and he gave us a couple extra minutes—minutes we really did need as it turned out.

One of the first stops once we got to Avignon was to visit the Papal Palace pictured above.  Avignon is where the popes relocated temporarily from 1309 to 1377 when Italy was involved in wars.  It is where seven French popes ruled.  Built of stone it is really more like a fortress than a palace and took 18 years to build (1334-1352).  It is one of the major tourist attractions in Avignon and contrary to the way it appears in this picture there was a long line to get in.  My only complaint, and it is a minor one, about the trip as a whole, was that we had such little time to stroll through these interesting places.  Waiting in line to get in would mean less time inside so four of us opted for a second choice.  If one is willing to make the climb there is a smaller chapel above the palace that had far fewer tourists, admission was free, and it was truly lovely inside. 

The altar in the small papal chapel

Above the altar area is a dome where the sun shines in lighting the artwork
Some of the areas inside the chapel had signs asking visitors not to take pictures but this section looked like it was on display with special lights to make picture taking easier.  

Tower and statue

The view from the top of the hill near the chapel was beautiful.  As we looked up toward the palace we could see this gold statue.  Looking down we could see the pope’s vineyard, the red tile roofs and there was a small park up there too with a fountain, trees, shade and a place to get out of the ever-present strong Mistral winds.  

The pope’s vineyard
Fountain in the small park near the chapel


The city is walled; part of the old wall with crenelated mini towers can be seen in this photo, which also shows the crowded red tiled roofs on the buildings.

Near the Papal Palace walking toward the town


There were several interesting buildings in Avignon like this Theater.  In the shopping area the buildings had stores on the street level and what appeared to be apartments on the upper floors.  Almost all the buildings had balconies with ironwork that looked like lace or filigree.

Stores below, apartments above

It is hard to describe the wind.  It was constant, very strong, blowing over chairs and other objects, stirring up dust from the walkways and streets making our eyes tear up, turn red and sore.  The sun was shining but it was April and therefore cold.  The winds are usually not that cold but they don’t let up and people have been known to go crazy from it.  Our guide compared the winds in Provence to the Santa Ana winds in California. 

Mrs. Gimlet and I were not the only ones who slipped into stores and did a little shopping to get out of the wind--not as expensive as Paris and lots of beautiful things including elegant table linens for very reasonable prices.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 43

USC&GS Carlile P. Patterson
Many of our ancestors have had connections with the sea.  Before I.C. Lee joined the Seattle Fire Department and afterwards the Seattle Police Department he worked on the Patterson.  We don’t have exact dates of his service on the Patterson but since he was promoted to Police Sergeant in 1905 it must have been around 1899/1900.  There is a number on the card “1245” but no publisher is indicated. 

I.C. Lee, ca 1904

The Patterson was built in 1883 and named after Carlile Pollock Patterson who was the 4th Superintendent of the Coast Survey and the first of the Coast and Geodetic Survey.  She was a beautiful wooden ship with frames of white oak with cedar tops, the planking, beams and lower deck were yellow pine, and the upper deck was white pine.  Rigged with double topsail yards she also had a steam engine.  She was outfitted with state-of-art equipment for deep-water hydrography. 

It is interesting to note the sails.  It is almost as if in the transition from wind power to steam power the ship builders and sailors wanted to make sure that should the steam power fail the ship could still sail onward.  Several trans oceanic ships of that time period were also dual powered by steam and sail.  Even the small life saving boats used during the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition in 1909 had oars as well as a gas power motor.  (See postcard Thursday, 27)

The Patterson was used primarily as a survey vessel off the coast of Alaska although she also served in other west coast locations and in the Hawaiian Islands from 1885-1918.  During 1918 and 1919 she was transferred to the US Navy.  Later the steam engine was replaced with diesel, other changes were made and she had a merchant career for several years.  She was wrecked in a storm December 1938, going aground in the Gulf of Alaska while on the way from Kodiak to Seattle.

Nelson B.C. and the Kootenay River, 1905

Morley & Company, Nelson B.C., Canada, published this postcard.  The card was sent to Petra Lee with a thank you for her hospitality signed only as M.K.  The Lees had many friends who traveled and sent postcards.  Although this scene looks as if it should be on the coast it is actually inland north of Spokane, Washington therefore about 300 miles from the sea.  However, it looks so much like some places in Norway it is easy to see why so many Scandinavians decided to settle in the Pacific Northwest, northwestern Canada and Alaska.

For more information about the Patterson see:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Paternal ancestors of Didrik Andreas Thomsen

Avaldsnes Church, Rogaland, Norway
[photo: by orvill – Google images]

This photograph of the Avaldsnes Church in Rogaland, Norway where Didrik Andreas Thomsen was christened is a Google image by orvill.  The church is stone with a wooden roof and has been a western landmark for 750 years.   It has stood through wars and the Black Death [1349-1351], been in states of disrepair and renewal.  [I've always rather liked the idea that our ancestors were lucky enough or hardy enough to survive the bubonic plague.]  Permission to build the church was given in 1250 but the church itself was not completed until 1320.  It was dedicated to St. Olav.  Since it is located along the western coast it would have been a place pilgrims visited or stopped at on their way to St. Olav’s shrine further north in Trondheim.  Prior to 1250 there was a wooden church on this site.  At one point the church fell in such disrepair that in the 17th century a small wooden church was built inside the stonewalls and was used for more than 200 years.  Restorations of the stone church occurred in 1830 and 1920. 

There is a stone monolith called Jomfru Marias synål (Mary’s Needle or the sewing needle of Virgin Mary) that stands 23 feet or 7.2 meters tall leaning toward the wall but not quite touching it (3 inches or 9.2 cm from the wall).  Once there were several such stones that stood around the church area now this is the only one remaining.  A saga says, “The day of Judgment (or the end of the world) will come when the stone comes into contact with the church wall.”  Another popular story says that a minister in ages past climbed up the monument to cut off a piece from the stone when it came too close to the church wall.


Didrik Andreas Thomsen

Whenever it is possible I will try to provide information about ancestors.  I hope this will not be too confusing to follow.  (I) is the son of (II), (II) the son of (III) and so forth.  This post concentrates on the direct male line only.  In a future post I will follow the female line.  The surname appears as Thompson, Thomsen, Thomasen, Thomssen, Thomassen.

(I)    Didrik Andreas Thomsen, born 1849, was the son of (II) Thomas Thomssen, born 24 January 1820 and christened at  Avaldsnes, Rogaland, Norway and Anne Didriksdatter, born 30 November 1817 and christened at Nes, Flekkefjord, Vest Agder, Norway.  Thomas and Anne lived at Kalstø, Rogaland, Norway south Bergen.  They were married 14 September 1843 at Kopervik, (Avaldsnes) Rogaland, Norway and had five children:

1.    Ole Christian Thomassen, born 19 November 1844 christened at Kopervik
2.    Ole Christian Thomassen, born 13 December 1846, christened at Kopervik
3.    * (I) Didrik Andreas Thomsen, born 23 June 1849, christened at Kopervik
4.    Jirtrund (Gjertine) Lisabeth Thomassen, born 16 April 1853, christened at Kopervik
5.    Nils Thomassen, born 31 December 1855, christened at Kopervik

Note:  Normally with two children having identical names one would think that the first child died and the second child was named after the first one but so far I have found no record of the death of the first of the two older boys both named Ole Christian.  If he did not die young then the first boy would probably have been called the elder or “d.e.” the younger son could have either been called the younger or “d.y” or possibly Christian after his middle name.  

The records for Kopervik were kept at this time with those of Avaldsnes.  Earlier the family had the christenings at the Nedstrand church.

Nedstrand Church, Rogaland, Norway
[Photo: Jarle Vines (Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike 3.0)]

The wooden Nedstrand church shown in the photograph above was built in 1868 so our Thomsen ancestors must have been christened in an older church building but I thought it was a pretty church and could not find any pictures of the older building. 

(II) Thomas Thomssen Kalstø, born 24 January 1820, was the illegitimate son of (III) Thomas Olsen Laurvig, born 1785 and Ingerj or Inger Olsdatter Nerstrand born about 1795.  It does not appear that (III)Thomas Olsen Laurvig and Inger Olsdatter Nerstrand (Nedstrand) ever married and no other children can be found in the church register for them. 

Note:  There were a certain number of illegitimate births in every parish partly because people sometimes did not have the money or the opportunity to have an expensive marriage ceremony with the accompanying week long party and would just live together as a common law couple sometimes producing several children before marrying.  In a case like this, during this time period, in many parishes if the mother was unwilling to name the father then the priest/pastor would ask another family member or neighbor to identify the father of the child and his name would be written in the register with a notation stating the name or relationship of the informant.  It is a fortunate circumstance for those of us who come along later because without those notations we might never be able to identify the father if the couple does not marry later on.

(III) Thomas Olsen Laurvig was born 3 July 1785, christened in Nedstrand, the son of (IV) Ole Thomasen Kaggestad born about 1763, died 1793 and Ingeborg Olsdatter Lie born 1756.   (IV) Ole Thomasen Kaggestad and Ingeborg Olsdatter Lie were married 27 April 1785 in Nedstrand and had four children.

1.    * (III) Thomas Olsen Laurvig, 1785
2.    Kari Olsdatter Kaggestad, 13 April 1788
3.    Jona/Jone/Jonah Olsen Kaggestad, 5 July 1789
4.    Kari Olsdatter, 29 July 1792

(IV) Ole Thomasen Kaggestad was born about 1763 and died 28 March 1793 in Nedstrand age 30.  His death is recorded in the Nedstrand parish register but I have not yet located his birth.  He was the son of (V) Thomas Pedersen Musland, born 1733 and Guri or Guren Olsdatter Kaggestad, born 1726 died 17 November 1802.   (V) Thomas Pedersen Musland and Guri Olsdatter Kaggestad were engaged in Nedstrand 16 March 1755 with the marriage date later recorded as 8 July 1755.  They had the following children:

1.    Jone Thomsen Kaggestad, 4 November 1754
2.    Peder Thomsen Kaggestad, 30 September 1757
3.    Margaretha Thomsdatter Kaggestad, 6 July 1760
4.    * (IV) Ole Thomsen Kaggestad, about 1763

Here we come to some problems.  The available digitized parish registers begin in the year 1724 hence it is not currently possible to go back further than (VI) Peder Pedersen Musland who was probably born about 1700.  A second problem is that I still have not found the birth/christening record for (IV) Ole Thomsen Kaggestad although I know he is living there because he appears in the other records.  For example, his death was recorded in Nedstrand in 1793 and stated his age as 30 so his birth should be found in 1763 but so far remains elusive.  A third complication is that from 1741 to 1816 the Nedstrand, Hinderå and Sjernarøy parishes kept their records together, the earlier records written in a paragraph form as a chronological list with all the events lumped together.  The sjelesregister (a census of sorts) of 1758 lists (V) Thomas Pedersen [Musland] 26 and his wife Guri Olsdatter 32 living at Kaggestad with two children:  Jone 3 and Peder ½ so I know this is the right family in the correct place.  People in the 1700s were not particularly careful about remembering their exact age or birth date so I usually look five years either side of what is recorded normally finding the person within a one-year span of where/when they are supposed to be.

(V) Thomas Pedersen Musland was born 3 April 1733 and christened at Nedstrand, the son of (VI) Peder Pedersen Musland and his wife, Margrethe Thomasdatter. 

The above information was compiled from using the parish registers and census records.  When available I also use local bygdebøker to identify the families.  

Note:  Farm names such as Kalstø, Laurvig, Kaggestad, Musland were more like an address than an actual surname.  If a man owned more than one farm he might have more than one farm name. If his family had lived for several generations on one farm he might choose to retain that farm name even if he had moved to a different place.  Fixed surnames were not required in Norway until about the middle of the 1800s and even then many people continued to use the patronymic system (taking the father's given name and adding son or daughter to it) until into the 1900s.  Farm names were a good way to distinguish people with the same or similar names from one another so the rural church records almost always list the farm name in addition to the patronymic name. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Lom Stave Church, Norway

Stave Church, Lom, Gudbrandsdal, Norway, ca 1980
[photo:  courtesy of a Frenchman]

A Frenchman took this picture of a Stavkirke or Stave Church in Norway in 1980.  He was not sure which church this might be but since there are only 28 of these old wooden churches left, fire being the biggest danger, by comparing photos of the ones still standing and using a process of elimination I believe this looks most like the Lom church in the Gudbrandsdal district of Norway, in the fylke or county of Oppland.  Oppland is situated more or less in the middle of the country between Sogn og Fjordane on the west and Hedmark on the east.   It borders on Buskerud and Akershus to the south and Møre og Romsdal, Sør Trøndelag and part of Hedmark to the north. 

The Lom church was originally constructed in 1158-1159 but was rebuilt into a cruciform church in the 17th century.  Additions occurred in 1608, 1634 with a cross section added in 1663.  In 1933 there was a complete restoration and another smaller restoration in 1973.  This church is one of the few remaining stave churches to retain the original medieval crest with a dragon head.  It is what is described as a triple nave stave church and is one of the oldest Stave Churches still in existence. Known to have one of the largest collections of paintings found in any Norwegian church, it was built extra large and was an important stopover for pilgrims in the Middle Ages.   It is still in use today and is the main church in Lom. 

For more information please see and


When he sent the picture of the church he also included three other pictures shown below.  They are postcard picture beautiful and look almost as if they could be paintings.  I do not have the locations for these photos but since a map does show Sognefjord winding its way inland perhaps they are from the Gudbrandals district as well.  If any readers recognize the area and can identify the places, please leave a comment. 

Norwegian fjord
[photo:  courtesy of a Frenchman]

Norwegian farm house
[photo:  courtesy of a Frenchman]

Two houses or buildings in Norway
[photo:  courtesy of a Frenchman]*


* Merci beaucoup for sending and sharing these pictures of Norway.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 42

Pont Nuef – Panorama of Paris from the Louvre, ca early 1900s

Pont Nuef or New Bridge was the first stone bridge to be built that did not have houses on it.  Although we cannot see all of them on this card the bridge has twelve arches.  It spans 912 ft (275 m) and connects the Ile de la Cité with both banks of the Seine River.  Construction of the bridge began in 1578 but it was not completed and open for traffic until 1607.  The Notre Dame cathedral towers can be seen in the central background.

[For more information:  Eyewitness travel, p. 86]
The Seine River looking toward the “Lock Bridge,” 2012

The Seine River flows around two islands, Ile de la Cité and Ile St-Louis and is connected to the mainland by several small bridges and the larger Pont Neuf.  This view is from one of the smaller bridges by Notre Dame looking toward the bridge that contains all the padlocks (see previous post about the “Lock Bridge,” Paris).

Panorama of Montmartre, ca 1915

This second card shows the church of Sacré-Coeur and the bell tower at the top of the hill in the Montmartre district of Paris.  Two Catholic businessmen, Alexandre Legentil and Hubert Robault de Fleury, made a vow at the beginning of the Franco-Prussian war in 1870 to build this church to the Sacred Heart of Christ should France be spared the impending Prussian invasion.  Construction of the church was begun in 1875, completed by 1914, and dedicated following World War I in 1919.  Legentil’s heart is in a stone urn in the basilica’s crypt. 

The bell tower at the right contains one of the heaviest bells in the world weighing 18.5 tons.  The clapper weighs 1,900 lbs or almost one ton.  The tower was completed in 1895 and stands 252 feet (83 meters) high.  It might be an optical illusion because the bell tower looks a little taller on the card but the Eyewitness travel guidebook states that the ovoid dome of the church is the second highest point in Paris.  

[For more information:  Eyewitness Travel, pp 226-227]

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Paris -- picture gallery

Arc de Triomphe

We crammed so many things into our brief stay in Paris that it was hard to choose the pictures for this last post of Paris before moving on to Provence and the Riviera. 

We did go up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe and look out at the city at dusk and saw the Eiffel Tower as it was lit up for the night.  Our tour guide, Angelique, said the view from there was as good as from the Eiffel Tower and had the advantage of being able to see the tower.  It was a good choice.

In front of Notre Dame with Mrs. Gimlet, Thing One, and yours truly
One of our group leaders decided we needed to have our picture taken so he kindly took this shot.  Note—Thing One will not smile until his braces come off.

Shakespeare and Company bookstore 

This bookstore has a cameo appearance in the movie Midnight in Paris.  It is crammed floor to ceiling with used books and was very crowded with people when we visited.


There are so many little crowded streets like this lined with shops and places to pick up a pastry or two.  We found a cute little café around the corner where we could eat wonderful food and watch the people walking by.  

Or this street as we climbed Montmartre up to Sacré-Coeur passing the house of Toulouse-Lautrec in pink on the left side of the street.  

Mrs. Gimlet and The Lacemaker
There are only two Vermeer paintings at the Louvre, this very small one titled “The Lacemaker” (1669/70) and one other “The Astronomer” (1668).  Vermeer didn’t paint many pictures but the ones he did were scenes of Dutch middle class everyday life, interesting, and lovely.  Since Mrs. Gimlet makes Hardanger lace we especially wanted to see this painting.  As we were admiring it a young woman came rushing into the room asking frantically where the Vermeer paintings were because she wanted to see “The Girl with the Pearl Earring.”  We had to tell her that it wasn’t in the Louvre.  She was very sad.

Venus de Milo
This man wasn’t the only man to take pictures of the backside of Venus.  She does look lovely from both sides but I found it a little amusing—if you follow the camera angle. 

The Louvre is huge and it is easy to quickly get overwhelmed with the size and sheer number of things there.  We had selected just a handful of items we really wanted to see and knew it would be impossible to see everything in the limited time available.  If I ever have the opportunity to go back I would take a couple of days at least and stick to one area instead of spending so much time running around trying to find particular items.  There are a lot of stairs too and while the teenagers and Mrs. Gimlet did fine with them I needed to rest every now and then. 

Mona Lisa
[photo courtesy of the Gimlets]
The Mona Lisa is relatively small and very much in need of cleaning.  It looks dull in comparison to some of the other paintings.  The crowds around her were dense and it was hard to get close enough to get a good look. 
Looking up through the glass pyramid at the Louvre
[photo courtesy of the Gimlets]

The day of the Paris marathon and President Sarkozy’s speech to a crowd of about 100,000 people we left the city and went to Versailles.  I had mixed feelings about Versailles.  It is very beautiful but all the gold leaf and ornamentation was a little too much for me.

For some years the entrance gates were not gilded but because Versailles is such a popular tourist attraction the French government has in recent years been restoring the gates and the buildings to their original splendor.  It takes many layers of gold leaf to cover the gates and the rooflines.  The process of re-gilding has to be repeated every few years. 
The gates at Versailles


Perhaps it cannot be seen in this photo but even the clock has the sun in the center for Louis XIV the Sun King. 
The Hall of Mirrors.

One wall is windowed the opposite wall is mirrored.  There are 56,000 candles to light the hall in the evening.  The average person of that time period would have had four or five candles.  There is gold leaf along the ceiling and between the paintings.  Almost all the rooms had ceilings with magnificent paintings on them. 
The Queen’s bedroom

 This room or hallway was perhaps the least ornate and most restful for me.  The portraits of leaders and generals decorated the walls. 

The Gardens at Versailles
Oh so French--do you see the couple kissing by the fountain?  The gardens are immense stretching for what seems like miles as far as the eye can see with ponds, statuary, trees and flowers.  Once again everything is orderly and symmetrical.  Angelique said that the king would often have parties here with 20,000 or more guests.  The day we were there music was softly playing through speakers but in the days of Louis XIV and his successors there would have been live orchestras.  
Looking back up toward the castle from partway down the garden path.

Mrs. Gimlet has been posting pictures and accounts of our travels too on her blog.  Check it out here: