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. 

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