Friday, June 19, 2015

Norway - Evje og Hornnes

Hornnes community marker

 Hornnes church

It has been a year since our trip to Norway and more than enough time to reflect and relive the events of that amazing and wonderful experience.  I have previously posted some things but still have a few more things I wanted to share hence this recap of our stay in Hornnes where my father's mother came from before leaving for America in 1902.

While we were in Norway my cousin, Eldbjørg and her husband, Hans, acted as our hosts, tour guides and anything else we needed.  They had visited with me in Seattle several years earlier so I knew them.  My Norwegian language skills are limited to things like Thank you, How Are You and Goodbye although I can understand a little more, read some mostly genealogical things and road signs, not too useful for general conversation; however,
Eldbjørg speaks very good English so we could get along fine. 

We stayed with them in Ørsta where they live and while there had a chance to visit with their youngest son and his family in the neighboring community of Hovde.  Their granddaughter had made this wonderful welcome sign on the driveway in chalk complete with American flag to greet us. 

Our wonderful hosts drove us south through the beautiful Norwegian western fjord country to the Setesdal and the community of Evje og Hornnes where they have a house and some of the land our great-grandfather, Mikal Alfsen Hornnes, had as his farm and raised his large family.  With a park and beach for swimming not far away they, their children and grandchildren use this smaller house during the summer months as a vacation retreat.  We stayed in an upstairs bedroom that looked out across the fields at the old church my grandmother, Lil Anna, used to go to.  As we drove around the community we enjoyed scenic views and beautiful sunny weather and I could imagine how it must have been when Lil Anna lived in this lovely area.

The Hornnes house and scrumptious breakfast table

Eldbjørg’s brother, Bjarne, inherited the main farm and property and had the old house on the original farm torn down and a new modern one built in its place.  After he passed in away in 2011 his widow sold the house and land.  The forest on the hillside is now being developed for housing which causes Eldbjørg some sadness since the land had been in the family for many generations and I think she had hoped to keep it undeveloped as forest land.

Walking up the hill 

 The hunting cabins


Views from the hunting cabin

One morning Hans took us on a walk up the hill through the remaining forest to the small hunting cabins Bjarne had built.  Many people in Norway have mountain hytter (cabins) but these were more primitive than most.  The outside walls were decorated with hunting trophies.

Stabbur or storage building constructed in the 1600s

There is still a small storage building or stabbur that dates from the 1600s near where the old farmhouse used to be.  The people who bought the new house were kind enough to let us take some photos and climb inside.  The posts holding the stabbur off the ground were designed to keep vermin out of the building and away from things stored in there.  Today it is empty and the children play in it.

Is it possible?  Did we really meet after all the years of exchanging letters and photos?

Another cousin, Alf, with whom I have corresponded for many years but never met arranged a gathering of second cousins at the church and then from there we went back to the house for refreshments.  As a result I got to meet and visit with many new cousins and see Ellinor again.  She had also visited the United States years ago and we had had a good visit at that time.  Alf numbered the people in the photo and I do have names to go with the numbers and also for the people in the other pictures shown below. If family members don't recognize someone, they can contact me for the names.

Above is a photo of the group of second cousins who gathered in Hornnes church and below some of the cousins at the  house afterwards.  We tried to take as many people pictures as possible but it was hard to do and visit at the same time.  So I am sorry to say I missed a few but have such fond memories of that special occasion. It was incredibly kind and generous on the part of Alf and Eldbjørg to put this event together and I appreciated it so very much.

Later Alf took us on a driving tour of the surrounding areas where some of the old family farms had been but were no longer and included several old churches and graveyards (a perfect excursion for a genealogist!) then up to his mountain cabin that was extremely nice with lovely views.  When we returned from our drive we had a wonderful meal with Alf and his wife, Aslaug, and got to see the video and photo workshop that I had heard about for so long.  Alf has shared many old family photographs and has collected thousands more of the farms and people of this area of Norway.  He was recognized and honored for his contribution of records preservation by a regional prize and later by the King of Norway.

The video workshop

 Near the Evje ironworks


 Alf's mountain cabin

 Views from Alf's cabin

 Hægeland church

 Iveland church

This last picture of Hornnes church was taken at about 11 pm from the upstairs bedroom window.  

Tusen takk to my Norwegian relatives for such a fantastic, wonderful visit!

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