Monday, January 30, 2012

Klara Kristofa Landaas

Klara Kristofa Landaas, ca 1903

The Landaas family was a close-knit group and often had picnics and family gatherings together. On one occasion they had a series of photographs taken dressed up in outlandish hats, ribbons, clothes, and making silly poses. In this picture we see Klara with fans for a hat and collar. Klara came to America with her mother, the youngest brother and two of her sisters in 1901.

Samuel Olai Hillwang, ca early 1900s

Klara Kristofa, ca early 1900s

This picture was taken shortly after all the Landaas family was in Seattle. Note the long sølje pin at her neck.

Klara married another Norwegian immigrant, Samuel Hellevang (Americanized to Hillwang), on 1 August 1903 in Seattle. They had five children:

1. Violet born 27 March 1904 and died the next day.
2. Thelma born 17 December 1906, died 15 February 1989
3. Helen Karen born 3 December 1908, died 15 June 1985
4. Lillian Florence born 29 March 1911, died 28 August 1997
5. Robert born 13 Jun 1913, tragically died 3 February 1922 from complications due to diabetes.

Sam Hillwang, Clara Lorig, Klara Hillwang, Karen Landaas, Trygve Landaas, Nora Johannsen, Petra Lee. Children: Thelma, Helen, Lillian and Robert Hillwang, ca 1917

Klara was the fourth child of Peder Landaas and Karen Olsdatter Kalvetræ. She was born 23 January 1877 and christened at Hosanger, Bergen, Norway. More sober (one might even suggest morose) than her two older sisters she was sure that she would never see her sisters again once they left Norway for America. She wrote a very sad note to Mikkeline telling of her fears that the family would never see her again. But Maggie and Petra had a different idea and by 1902 they had helped the entire family come to Seattle.

Klara’s husband, Samuel Olai Hellevang was born 13 July 1876 in Forde, Sogn og Fjordane, Norway. He was a bricklayer by profession. When he came through immigration he had to choose his surname and that caused some consternation. The Immigration officer asked him if he wanted to be Sam Hell, Sam Hill, or Sam Wang? The name in Norway had been the farm name Hellevang. Farm names tend to be descriptive: Helle for a slab of rock, Vang for a grassy meadow area, thus Hellevang was rocky but also a place with a grassy meadow. None of the choices offered him came close to meaning the same as his farm name hence the compromise to something completely different Hillwang.

I can remember both Aunt Klara and Uncle Sam fairly well. I am not sure how many times we visited them but I do remember on their 50th wedding anniversary a party was held at their home in Ballard. It is crazy what things kids will remember. Aside from all the people the thing I remembered the most was the toilet. I am not sure if they had the house built or if the indoor plumbing was added after the fact but while the bathtub was inside the house in a bathroom the toilet was in a funny little closet of a room on the porch. I think my brother and our cousins and I spent a good deal of time going back and forth to the toilet just because of the novelty of the thing. Aunt Klara was said to have refused to have a toilet inside the house and that is why the little closet was built on the porch.

Uncle Sam died 21 March 1960, Aunt Klara passed away 11 April 1966.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Kongsberg Church

Exterior view of Kongsberg Church
[photo: from Wikipedia]

There are old churches in Norway besides the Stave churches and so I was pleased to get some inside pictures of the church at Kongsberg, Buskerud, Norway from Bjørn Arnhaug.* Buskerud is the county or fylke between Telemark to the southwest and Oppland to the northeast but also touching Olso on the east. Kongsberg itself is in the western portion of the county. This area is known for its old mines where silver was discovered in 1623.

Close up view of Kongsberg Church showing the completion date of 1761
[photo courtesy of Bjørn Arnhaug]

After the silver was discovered King Christian IV decided to make the town a royal residence and then in 1631 a church was also built there. Unfortunately both the royal residence and the original church burnt down that same year and were never rebuilt. Construction for the replacement church quickly began at the northern part of the cemetery. It was an east-west cruciform church. However, since it was constructed of wood it began to need extensive maintenance and renovations that were proving to be too costly so it was decided to design and build an entirely new church. The architectural design proposed by Joachim Andreas von Stukenbrock, a sober priest, was submitted for approval in 1739 and in 1740 construction began. There was a 17-gun salute when the foundation stone was laid. Stukenbrock died suddenly in 1756 so he never did see the finished church.

Today buildings go up so fast, even huge skyscrapers, that it is difficult to comprehend the amount of time and man-hours it took in the 1700s to build something like this church that required 21 years to complete. The exterior is made of red brick and is described as austere in appearance. The inside is richly decorated in a Baroque/Rococo style with chandeliers made at the Nøstetangen Glass Works located in neighboring Hokksund. Kongsberg church has a seating capacity of 2,400 making it still one of the largest churches in Norway. For more information about the community of Kongsberg please see

The church has a 2.5-ton bell and a carillon. The bells of the carillon were funded by donations from local businessmen whose names can be found on the individual bells.

Looking down at one of the chandeliers
[photo courtesy of Bjørn Arnhaug]

Interior with chandeliers from a different angle.
[photo courtesy of Bjørn Arnhaug]

Like the church at Hornnes the interior is wooden but various parts are painted and treated to look like marble. The only piece made of true marble is the font. The builder, Brede Rantzau, was primarily a carpenter but he also made two altar figures.

The altar area
[photo courtesy of Bjørn Arnhaug

The pulpit
[photo courtesy of Bjørn Arnhaug]

This close up view of the pulpit shows the marbleized wood on the wall and pillars. The bottom portion of the pulpit can also be seen in the picture of the altar area above.

The Royal Box
[photo courtesy of Bjørn Arnhaug]

Notice the soft blue interior color with gold accents, the marbleized pillars and insets along the upper level. There is a series of paintings in the middle area.

Another wall painting
[photo courtesy of Bjørn Arnhaug]

The organ
[photo courtesy of Bjørn Arnhaug]

The original organ dated from 1765 but suffered water damage following a fire in the church attic in the 1880s. There were insufficient funds to restore the organ until Tinius Olsen made a generous donation in 1928. Instead of restoring the old organ a completely new organ was built then housed behind the Baroque façade. The newer organ was closed in 1994 due to concerns about fire danger and the general lack of quality. A new campaign for donations was successful and the organ was dismantled and sent away for extensive restoration. It was rededicated in 2001 and has since been used by national and international organists with some recordings having been made.

Looking up at the ceiling.
[photo courtesy of Bjørn Arnhaug]

The Kongsberg church is considered a masterpiece. From these pictures I would agree that it is.


* Bjørn sent several photographs from his album and since I couldn't use all of them in the post I tried to choose enough for variety and representation. He also translated some of the historical information and that was much appreciated. The pictures are beautiful and I thank him so much for sharing them with us.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Aase Mikalsdatter Hornnes

August Knudsen & Aase Mikalsdatter Hornnes with six of their eight children, ca 1915/1916
[photo courtesy of Alf Georg Kjetså]

Aase was the twin sister of Torkjel Mikalsen and the sixth child of Mikal Alfsen and Anne Gundersdatter. She was born 21 May 1871 in Hornnes, Aust Agder, Norway. August and Aase married 22 April 1896. Their first child, Knut, was born that same year. Her name is sometimes found as Aase, Aasa, Åsa or Åse. I think the two older sons, Knut and Mikal had already left home and are not in this photograph of the family. Mikal was confirmed at Heskestad in 1912. Knut would have been about 19 or 20 and Mikal about 17 or 18 at the time this photo was taken. The children pictured: Karl Alfred about 14, Anna about 11, Klara about 9, Ågot about 5, Ragnvald about 3 or 4 and Karstein about 1 or 2. They were probably posed this way but I found it quite touching that the father is holding the hands of two of the children and that Ragnvald is resting his hand on his mother. Four of the children are dressed in a sailor motif leading me to originally think that August was wearing a naval cap of some sort, however, I subsequently found out that he worked for the railway making it more likely that the hat is associated with the railway instead.

The children were born in the general vicinity but in different towns making it most likely that this family moved around some at least in the early years.

The children in order of birth:

1. Knut, born 1896 at Hægeland
2. Mikal, born 1898 at Hægeland
3. Karl Alfred, born 1900 at Næs
4. Anna, born 1903 at Lunde
5. Klara, born 1905 at Lunde
6. Ågot, born 1909 at Heskestad
7. Ragnvald, born 1911 at Heskestad
8. Karstein, born 1913*

In 1900 Aase is shown living
with her three older sons but without her husband and at the same farm, Gaaseflaa, with her older sister (Store) Anna and Anna’s husband Osmund Baardsen Gaaseflaa. Osmund’s parents are living there at that time as well as my grandmother the youngest sister, (Lil) Anna. Lil Anna was working there as household help and there were also three young men near Lil Anna’s age who lived there and worked as lumberjacks or timber men. Aase’s older sons, Knut and Mikal were the same ages as their cousins, Mikal and Ragnald. We know that another cousin, Martin, the son of Marie spent some time at Gaaseflaa as well. So when we speak of the rascally boys of Gaaseflaa it may have been quite a group of rowdy young boys. What fun they must have had together.

I have looked for August in the 1900 Norwegian census but could not find him. Perhaps Bjørn & Marit Arnhaug can provide the missing pieces? I think, though, that since August was working for the rail line he may have been living away from home temporarily due to his job. In 1910 the family is listed together on the census as living in Heskestad parish at what looks like the rail station at Moen. Later the family moved to Aamli (Åmli) and stayed there. Bjørn sent these pictures that show Aase a little older, and both August and Aase together with some of their children. Olga Dalane, one of Store Anna’s daughters, was the same age as her cousin Aase's daughter Klara. Olga sent a picture of herself with her cousins Anna and Klara.

[photo courtesy of Bjørn Arnhaug]

There is a strong family resemblance between all the children in this large family. Fortunately for us they are all a rather handsome, good-looking group.

August & Aasa with Ågot, Klara and Anna. The sons here I believe to be Mikal, Karstein and Ragnvald.
[photo courtesy of Bjørn Arnhaug]

Olga Dalane with her cousins, Anna & Klara, ca 1978
[photo courtesy of Olga Dalane]

Karstein, Ragnvald, Ågot, Klara, Anna, Mikal
[photo courtesy of Bjørn Arnhaug]

August and Aase with an unidentified couple.
[photo courtesy of Bjørn Arnhaug]

Perhaps one of you recognizes the couple with August and Aase? I wondered if it might be their nephew, Mikal, the son of Aase’s brother Torkjel.

Of her eight children, two went to America, Knut in 1913 and Mikal in 1916. Mikal later returned home to Norway but Knut remained in America and married Annie Christianson in 1932 in Red Lake, Minnesota. What I have found as I dig into this family history is that the extended family members did stay in contact with one another or at least tried to do so. Mikal Alfsen, Aase’s father, had a brother, Torkild, who lived at Kile, in Hægeland not far from Gaaseflaa and fairly close to where Aase and August lived. Torkild came to America and settled in the Red River Valley of Minnesota. Is it possible that Knut ended up in that general area because he had an uncle there? Maybe. There certainly was a tendency toward doing that among new immigrants. I don’t have much additional information about Aase and her family perhaps because they did move around a bit and eventually settled somewhat apart from the others but what I have found so far indicates that Aase died 26 Jan 1953 and August died 16 Jan 1961.

Corrections or additions from family members would be welcome. I will post any updates people send me.



Mikal was confirmed at Heskestad in 1912 so we know the family was still there when Ragnvald was born in 1911; however, I do not know for sure that they were there in 1913 when Karstein was born. It must have been soon after 1912 they moved to Åmli.

Bjørn sent an email just after this post went up letting me know that Karstein was born at Heskestad and that he thinks the family moved to Åmli around 1913. Thanks, Bjørn, for the additional information.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 23

Volunteer Park Water Tower, ca 1911

I’m almost always on the lookout for vintage postcards and happened upon this one after the previous postcard Thursday about Volunteer Park in Seattle was posted. This card shows the Water Tower and what I think is one of the Koi ponds with plants all around it (bottom right of card). It is astounding to see places as they were a hundred years ago in comparison to what it looks like today. Today there are so many huge trees on the grounds by the Koi ponds and the large open grassy area in front of the Tower is no longer as expansive. The date on the reverse of the card is written as 1911 or about a year before the Conservatory was completed. The Tower was built of red brick in 1906 and has had a few repairs and improvements over the years, as one would expect. There are 106 steps to the observation level but once up there the views are splendid from all the windows. There are also interpretive displays concerning the Tower and the parks and boulevards together with information about the future plans for the greening (tree planting) of the city.

The windows have protective screens and bars on them but no glass. In order to take photos of the views I poked the camera lens through the bars. Mrs. Gimlet’s camera is fancier than my phone so she could “erase” the bar lines. There are benches to sit on if a person is so inclined. The day we visited it was cold and not conducive to sitting and resting on a bench but on a warm summer day it would be very nice indeed. Here are a few pictures from the Tower.

A little more information about the Tower can be found at

Observation level, Water Tower at Volunteer Park

Looking westward toward Puget Sound from the Water Tower

Seattle skyline from Water Tower

One of several displays as part of the interpretive exhibit

Looking down through the iron work grating on the windows of the Water Tower

Exterior view of the Water Tower as it looks today

Thursday, January 19, 2012

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 22

Rainier Vista, looking southeast, Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition 1909

John C. Olmsted and his brother were the landscape architects responsible for the earlier plan of the University of Washington campus as well as the park and boulevard system in Seattle. When the design for the grounds of the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition of 1909 was being considered he was again approached. Olmsted visited the site in 1906 and later in 1907. The land was uneven, there were trees and shrubs that he had removed and the hillside was graded into a gentle even slope leading to the lakeshore at the base with pathways cutting directly across the hill in arcs. It is a little hard to imagine today but in 1908 men and horses with wagons completed the transformation of the rough terrain into a park-like setting. Although Mt. Rainier is not always visible due to the climate and clouds on one of his visits Olmsted did see it and designed the Vista to use the mountain as part of the overall design for the Fair grounds. The Vista is one of the few remaining elements still retained on the campus today.

The picture on this postcard above was taken from the main United States Government building looking southeast. On the card can be seen the Alaska monument (tall monolith in foreground) with the Court of Honor, the Cascades (descending pools) ending in the Geyser Basin and the view of Mount Rainier. Beautiful gardens completed the overall design.

Rainier Vista gardens

Gardens near the Music Pavilion, looking southwest

Rainier Vista and Music Pavilion with gardens

Please see historylink for more information about Rainier Vista and the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition of 1909:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Snowed in

Looking out the front window toward the street

Some people live in areas where snow is a common occurrence in the winter, I do not. Our climate is mild with rain and clouds. It rarely gets cold enough to snow and when it does everything comes to a standstill. The schools close, the buses change routes and sometimes don’t run at all or get stuck, cars slide and skid and crash. People stay inside if they can and wait for the Pineapple express (warm wet wind and rain coming from Hawaii across the Pacific Ocean) to melt all the mess and let us get back to normal.

Seattle is a city of many hills, steep hills; it is not equipped to deal with snow. This city has perhaps only 20 trucks to sand, salt and plow the streets. None of the residential streets are touched by a plow only the main roads. My mailbox is down on the street and I have 20 stairs to climb up and down to get to the driveway. The driveway is very steep so I use a hiking pole to help me get down in the snow. But guess what? No mail, no paper, nobody wants to drive on my quiet little road bracketed by two extremely steep streets. The street to the north of me is so steep that it is always closed when it snows the street on the south is a main bus route and is salted or sanded but probably not plowed. Even so the buses go a different way when it snows.

The snow is very beautiful. It is 28℉ and still snowing. Cat and I will stay snug and warm inside the house.

The stairs up to the house

The street looking north

The house from the driveway

The Bride of Satan looking out at the snow

Note: Some of these photos are from a previous winter, I'm not going outside today.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Heddal Stave Church

Heddal Stave church
[from: Wikipedia]

Recently Marit and Bjørn Arnhaug sent me via email some pictures of the inside of the Heddal Stave church that Bjørn’s brother had sent him. The photographs he shared are so beautiful that I wanted to share them too.

The Heddal Stave church is the largest stave church in Norway and is what is called a triple nave stave church. This magnificent stave church is located at Heddal near Notodden in Telemark. The church was originally built at the beginning of the 13th century and was restored 1849-51. The restoration was not perfect, however, so another restoration was necessary in the 1950s.

Looking toward the altar.
[photo courtesy of Bjørn Arnhaug]

Close up view of the altar area.
[photo courtesy of Bjørn Arnhaug]

There is an amazing amount of detail in the carvings and paintings found on the altarpiece. The figure of Christ at the top shows him dressed in red robes as he is supposed to be dressed at the Second Coming. The left bottom painting I think may be the Annunciation and the bottom right picture shows his birth; the middle his death with the small inset possibly the Last Supper; and the top his resurrection. The carvings are symmetrical with matching figures on the opposite side—male heads, women, angels, and wings. I think I would need to sit in front of it in person and look for a long time before I would see all that is there and even then I might miss something. It is a beautiful altarpiece. So many pieces like this that we saw in Germany and Holland were gold gilt and were beautiful too but I rather like the painted wood better than all the gold.

Carved chair with a decidedly medieval look
[photo courtesy of Bjørn Arnhaug]

I am guessing but I think the pastor would sit in the chair until it was time for him to address or lead the congregation during the service. This church is a designated Norwegian cultural heritage site so I am unsure if it is still used as a church or if it is like the stave church at Borgund and not used as a church any more just as an historical monument. It does, however, look like it may be used as a church--notice the stand and microphone on the left side of the first interior photo. From these pictures it looks very beautiful inside and out.

Carved crucifix
[photo courtesy of Bjørn Arnhaug]

There is a legend about the construction of the church involving five men who wanted to build the church and a stranger who said he would do it if one of three conditions were met. The choices were to fetch the sun and moon from the sky, forfeit life-blood, or guess the name of the stranger (a troll). One of the men, Raud Rygi, thought it would not be too difficult to guess the stranger’s name before the completion of the building so he agreed to the terms but then the stranger was working so fast it was only going to take three days to finish and Raud feared for his life. You can probably figure out the ending but if you want to read the legend you can find it at The story reminded me a bit of the fairy tale “Rumplestiltskin” making me wonder where these stores come from and just how universal they are.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 21

Birds-eye view of Volunteer Park, early 1900s

This postcard shows Volunteer Park in Seattle as it was prior to when the new art museum was built in 1933. There was a Seattle Fine Arts Society as early as 1905. Forty-five acres of land for the park was purchased by the city in 1878 from a sawmill company for the sum of $2,000. The park was originally called City Park but was renamed in 1901 to honor those who served in the Spanish American War. As with several other parks this one uses a design by the Olmsted brothers.

Volunteer Park Conservatory

The white structure at the upper right of the postcard is the Conservatory. It is a beautiful glass greenhouse in the Victorian-style modeled after London’s Crystal Palace and was completed in 1912. There have been repairs and restorations since that time but the original design has been retained. The continued efforts of the Friends of the Conservatory have allowed visitors to wander through this large greenhouse free of charge. There are numerous plants from cacti to orchids and ferns as well as an indoor pond with fish.

Inside looking out

Outside looking in


Cattleya Orchids

Inside the greenhouse

The SAM Asian Art Museum, Volunteer Park

Close up view of decorative work on the doors to the musem.

The reddish-brown building at the right middle of the card was replaced in 1933 by the current building and is where the Seattle Art Museum’s (SAM) Asian art collection is now on display. There are pieces of public art on the steps. These are replicas of the original stone camels—the originals were moved to the downtown SAM, inside the building to help preserve and protect them from erosion.

Thing Two and Thing One on a stone camel at Volunteer Park, 2007

It is a tradition for people, especially children, to climb and sit on the camels. The original camels have a very shiny, smooth space between the humps where hundreds of visitors have sat.

Close up of one of the camels

On the grounds visitors will find the big black donut. Today the Donut is between the two Koi ponds shown on the card. The large pool at the middle left of the card is one of several reservoirs that supply water to city residents. It is one of the few remaining uncovered reservoirs in the city.

Thing One and Thing Two in the Donut, 2007

The Donut

The large body of water at the upper left of the postcard is not connected to the reservoir but is part of Puget Sound.

Looking at the card I wondered if the birds-eye view might have been taken from the water tower that is not shown on the postcard but is situated about where I think the photo was taken. So I decided to go to the park and climb up into the tower and take a picture of what it looks like today. The stairs are inside the tower and curve around the holding tank. There are three landings with about 30 stairs to each flight. The views are gorgeous from all the windows. Mrs Gimlet went with me and we both got some great pictures. It was something I had never done before and wanted to do proving to be well worth the climb up and down the approximately 100 steps. It was a beautiful sunny but cold day.

One of the Koi ponds with the Water Tower in the background

Water tower, Volunteer Park

Aerial view from water tower.

Today there are many more trees and they have grown up too tall now but this is essentially the same view as on the postcard and was taken from the observation level of the water tower. The Conservatory can be seen in the upper middle of this photo with the current museum on the right. The Koi ponds, Donut and pathway are obscured by the trees.

For more historical information about Volunteer Park see: