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. 

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