Thursday, May 31, 2012

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 41

Eikesdalsvandet, Romsdalen, Norway, ca 1900

Eiken, north of Bergen in More og Romsdal, is where Kristi Mor moved when she left Os in Hordaland, south of Bergen, to marry her second husband, Berent Berentsen.  One of the things her first husband, Ole Torstensen Salbuvik, did was to work as a ferryman.  Others of our ancestors also supplemented their farm income by being ferrymen in Norway.  They used small boats like the one shown on the postcard to transport passengers across the fjords for various reasons.  The western coast of Norway is a mass of fjords small and large.  There are many islands in the fjords and off the coastline.  The only way people could get from place to place was by using small boats like this one to go to church or to travel from their remote farm to the rest of the community.  The card below shows several boats in the bay by Namsos, even further north in Nord Trøndelag. 

When reading through the church registers it becomes apparent that this was often a hazardous journey that was done weekly or sometimes more often.  These cards show calm water but from the records we can know that this was not always the case.  Storms with winds and rough water were not uncommon especially in the winter months and some of the records list entire families that drowned during such crossings.  I doubt the ferrymen got hazardous duty pay for trips during foul weather.  A man would have to be not only a good sailor but have lots of muscles to row under those conditions.

Namsos, Nord Trøndelag, Norway, ca 1900

Today there are still ferries but not nearly as small as these boats.  When we visited Norway several years ago we took a ferry from Kinsarvik across Utnefjorden on our way from Kristiansand to Bergen.  That ferry was certainly small compared to the ones we have here that cross Puget Sound.  Instead of carrying hundreds of cars it only had room for a couple of cars and foot passengers.

Near Kinsarvik, Norway

This little community was on a fjord somewhere between Odda and Kinsarvik, Norway.

Sometimes it is hard to imagine the life these people had, the manual labor and living conditions so different from what we have today.  But the countryside is so beautiful in Norway and the population is not as dense as it is in the cities here.  I am sure my father would have thought it a small price to pay.  I am sorry both he and my mother did not have the opportunity to travel to Norway to see where their parents grew up.  They would have loved it.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Cornelius Landaas

Cornelius Landaas as a boy

I have been working my way through all the children in these big families (Mikal Alfsen and Anne Gundersdatter had eleven, Peder Landaas and Karen Olsen Kalvetræ had nine) and now we come to Cornelius Landaas who was born 13 September 1881 in Bergen, Norway the sixth child of Peder and Karen.  He journeyed to America with his next older brother, Harald, arriving in Montreal, Canada in October 1901 then taking the Canadian Pacific Railway west to Seattle where his two older sisters, Mikkeline (Maggie) and Petra had settled.  The oldest Landaas brother, Adolph, was in the goldfields of Alaska by that time.  Cornelius became a naturalized citizen of the United States on 30 September 1910. 

Cornelius or Neil as he was called appears to have been, from oral history accounts, more or less the favored son.  All his siblings and his mother thought him the cleverest, smartest of the lot and had only good things to say about him.  Supposedly he could fix or repair anything, had a keen mind, and charmed the socks off everyone.  His formidable mother, Karen, not only wanted to pick wives for her sons she also strongly suggested career choices.  She wanted Neil to become a Lutheran minister but my mother, who lived with him and his family for a short time, thought that would have been a most unsuitable choice for Uncle Neil.  Instead he became an Engraver and worked in a jewelry store.  The fact that he went slightly against the wishes of his extremely strong willed mother says something.  His older brother, Harald was also an engraver and his younger brother, Trygve was a jeweler.  So these three brothers were in similar occupations and the eldest brother, Adolph, was gold mining. 

Neil was married three times.  His first wife was Mary Thompson, born 29 December 1886 in Seattle, the daughter of Thorvald and Louisa Thompson.  Reverend Stub married Neil and Mary in the Ballard First Lutheran church on 17 March 1906.  There is a long association with this church and Rev. Stub in the Landaas family. 

Neil and Mary had one child, a daughter, Louise Marion Landaas born 5 April 1907.  Mary passed away 28 November 1918 in Seattle.  Louise would have been about eleven years old when her mother died.  One time when I spoke with Louise she mentioned that she thought her mother may have been expecting another child at the time of her death but in those days things like that were never talked about.  I thought the picture below of Neil and Mary was cute.  It was in with the batch of silly pictures that the Landaas family took of each other in the early 1900s. 

Mary & Neil Landaas, ca early 1900s

He married his second wife, Dorothy G. Gray on 12 August 1920.  Dorothy was born in Illinois in April 1893 the daughter of Robert Gray and Sophia Clark.  Robert and Sophia had emigrated from England with two of their children, Victoria V. and James D.  They lived first in Illinois and then moved west to Seattle where they settled.  Neil and Dorothy had one son, Robert Gray Landaas, born 20 October 1921* in Seattle.  About the time that Neil married Dorothy his daughter, Louise, left the household to move in with her mother’s sister.  As a result of this move Louise and Robert were not raised together and had very little contact with each other throughout their lives.  I thought that rather sad since they had no other siblings.  Dorothy passed away 1 December 1933.  Robert was just twelve or thirteen years old when his mother died.

Cornelius Landaas

Neil and Tryg look very much alike in the old photographs making it difficult to tell them apart so I was delighted when Bob Landaas identified this one as definitely his father. 

On 4 September 1937 Neil married for a third time to Dorothy’s sister, Victoria V. Gray.  Vicky was born May 1888 in England and came to America with her parents as a child.  Neil and Vicky did not have any children.  Neil passed away 24 April 1951 and Vicky died 25 May 1956. 

Neil’s daughter, Louise, married Eugene (Gene) Cardiff in 1929 and they had one daughter.  Gene died in 1997 and Louise passed away a year later in 1998.  Neil’s son, Bob, married and had two children.  Bob died in 2004.  He took a trip to Norway in 1984 and his wife sent this picture of him standing in front of the new church at Landaas, near Bergen.  She remarked that it was a beautiful piece of modern architecture—so different from Korskirken or from the country church in Nissedal where her own father’s ancestors are buried.

Bob Landaas in front of the new Landaas church, 1984

Although I met and talked with Louise and Gene Cardiff several times, met and talked with Bob Landaas and his wife, also met many of the Landaas aunts and uncles I do not remember Uncle Neil.  When I talked with one of the granddaughters of Neil’s sister, Klara Hillwang, she couldn’t really remember him either other than to mention that none of the Hillwang girls liked him much.  My own mother didn’t like him at all.  Interesting since he was held in such high esteem by his own mother and siblings.  There is a hint that Neil may have been a ladies man but we may never know all the details of those whispers since no one is left alive now who could confirm or deny the reports.  The Landaas family was a large close-knit group known for nicknaming and teasing.  It made me wonder if Uncle Neil may have been teasing and flirting with all the girls and women.  The older ones could have found it flattering, cute, and maybe funny but the young girls might have been confused and uncomfortable with it coming from an adult.

As mentioned above, my mother lived with Uncle Neil’s family for a short period of time, after I.C. Lee passed away in November 1930.  I’m not sure how long after his death Uncle Neil and his family moved into the Lee’s home but they did live there for quite some time.  Petra was able to stay in the house with mom for awhile but eventually had to take a live in housekeeping position and mom couldn’t move with her so she stayed in the house with Uncle Neil and his family.  From that time forward until mom was out of high school she was bumped around between the aunts and uncles sleeping on sofas and living out of a suitcase.   I suppose the only good thing about the arrangement was that she knew all the aunts and uncles well and was in later years able to identify many of her mother’s old pictures and pass along much of the oral history for which I am extremely grateful.


*  Bob's birth year appears in different places as 1920 or 1921.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 40

Spirit of the Pacific

There were at least two monolithic sculpture ideas submitted for the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition to be held in Seattle in 1909.   The Norwegian born sculptor Finn Haakon Frolich was selected as the Director of Sculpture for the Exposition.  He had also submitted works for the fairs in Paris, St. Louis, and Chicago.  His appointment as director was a result of his previous successes.  This piece shown above was his design.  Two others he made for the Exposition in 1909, busts of Edvard Grieg, the famous Norwegian composer and musician and James J. Hill, United States railroad tycoon, can still be found on the University of Washington campus. 

The postcard shows a close up view of the Spirit of the Pacific a 30 foot high sculpture of a winged figure on a globe with four women representing Japan, China, Alaskan Eskimos and the Pacific Islands standing beneath the globe looking outward to each part of the fair grounds.  It was one of two suggested sculptures presented as finalists and it is unclear if it was actually placed anywhere on the fair campus. The Spirit of the Pacific was to be located at the Cascades fountain however the card below shows the other suggested sculpture called the Alaska Monument at the Court of Honor in front of the US Government building and at the head of the Cascades.  The Cascades flowed down into Geyser Basin or what is now Frosh Pond.
The beginning of the Cascades can be seen at the lower right of the card.

Court of Honor with Alaska Monument

Both pieces were somewhat similar, winged, and on a tall pillar.  It seems unlikely that they would both be placed in the same area of the fair.  It was interesting that some information about the designer of The Spirit of the Pacific could be found but no mention was made of who designed the Alaska Monument or why it was chosen instead of the other one.  

Alaska Monument

This view of the Alaska Monument is as seen in front of the Hawaiian exhibition hall on the north side of the US Government building and at the head of the Cascade fountain.  Remember that these cards were tinted from the original black and white prints.  The gold coloration on one card may look pretty but all the other pictures show the monolith as having a natural stone color.  It is hard to say exactly what the color might have been under the circumstances.  The Portland Postcard Company of Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon published all three of the cards shown.

Some additional information can be found at:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Paris -- Musée de Cluny

Musée de Cluny, the entrance is the first small brown door at the bottom right

We did get to the Musée de Cluny while in Paris (see Postcard Thursday, #34).  It was one of several places on our to do list.  We knew we wouldn’t get to see everything but this was definitely one museum we hoped we could fit in.  Musée de Cluny is amazing.  Parts of the building are extremely old, dating from Roman times.  Some of the items on display in the museum dated from 935 AD most were from the 1100s and 1200s. 

The Cluny was a good choice for us because it is a smaller museum and meant we wouldn’t get quite as overwhelmed with all the artifacts.  It is also perhaps not as well known or as popular as some of the other larger museums hence fewer people, better views of the things we wanted to see and a more relaxed visit. 

Our main objective in visiting this small museum was to see the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries but we found many other interesting things there as well including Roman baths, the heads of the Old Testament kings that had been removed from Notre Dame cathedral during the French Revolution, examples of medieval armor, religious icons, leaded glass window panels and statuary as well as other tapestries.  The Unicorn tapestry is huge.  There are five panels that cover one entire wall and an additional section on a second wall. 

Most of the display areas in the museum were dimly lit, presumably to help protect and preserve the items, making picture taking almost impossible with my small point and shoot camera because no flash pictures were allowed.  Mrs. Gimlet could do much better with her bigger camera and changeable settings and lenses.  I did not realize that even my pre-flash red-eye reduction light would prove to be a bit more than the museum wanted but I did get a couple of photos before I was told to stop.  They were very nice about it and I apologized.

Four of the five panels of the Lady & the Unicorn tapestry

The five panels represent the five senses, smell, hearing, touch, taste and sight.  The sixth panel depicts the sixth sense or the moral and spiritual heart.  

Sixth panel of the Lady & the Unicorn tapestry

The tapestries are made of wool and silk and were woven about 1500 AD.  

The heads of the kings were another attraction.  Up high all along the front of the Notre Dame Cathedral are statues of kings from the Old Testament.  

Row of Old Testament kings across the front approximately halfway up the building

During the French Revolution the cathedral of Notre Dame was stormed, most of the leaded glass windows were smashed, the heads were removed from the kings and the bodies were also vandalized.  This happened because the people saw any figure that had a crown or looked religious as representation of the oppressors and thus became targets to be taken down or destroyed.  The replacement set of leaded glass windows wasn’t completed until about 1938 just before World War II.  At the beginning of the war to protect the windows from bombing damage they were dismantled, each piece of glass numbered, and then sunk in the Seine River until after the end of the war when they were taken out of the river and reassembled like a giant jigsaw puzzle. 

One of the Rose windows, Notre Dame Cathedral

During the Revolution someone collected the heads of the kings but it wasn’t until the 1970s that all but a couple of the heads of the kings were rediscovered.  By that time the heads and bodies had been replaced years earlier so the original pieces were sent to the Cluny museum where we saw them.  

Some of the original carved heads of the Old Testament kings taken from Notre Dame

The heads are made of Lutetian limestone and were carved between 1210 and 1258 AD.  The heads and the bodies suffered significant damage as is shown in these photos.  

The bodies of the kings and Mrs. Gimlet

Also at the Cluny was this magnificent icon done in layered gold a process called Limoges.


The Roman baths were on three different levels, one outside, this one (the frigidarium—cold bath) above, and one more.  This was built in 200 AD the ceiling and floor have been left to age.

When I got home I really wished I had worn a pedometer for the trip.  To give an idea of how far we walked when in Paris the first day we walked past the Cluny this day we took the Metro.  It was five stops from our hotel, not an insignificant distance!  By this point, however, we were used to walking all over Paris and from the Cluny we strolled the rest of the way to Notre Dame stopping at a little stand to get an ice cream cone. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 39

 Norwegian Royal Family, 1905

 Hipp hipp hurra – as they say in Norway

Today is Norwegian Constitution Day and here are three cards that were sent to Petra and I.C. Lee in 1905 to celebrate the independence of Norway from Sweden.

The cards were printed by Mittet  & Company and show the new Royal family.  King Haakon VII, Queen Maud and Prince Olav. 

King Haakon

Queen Maud

Belle Homsher recalled the following incident that occurred in 1905 when she was living in Bergen, Norway. 

“We went out in a row boat, 1905.  When King Haakon was crowned, you know.  And Queen Maud, and Prince Olav.  He was a little boy.  That was in 1905.  So we went out in the boat.  We were sitting out in the boat and we waved to them.  Little Prince Olav, he was so cute.  He was standing there with his sailor suit on and Queen Maud and King Haakon too.  They were young people.  They were going so slow, barely moving.  Just down below where we lived on the water.  That was a very pretty inlet there where we lived.  We knew who they were.  It was quite a thrill to see them.”  

 17th of May pin for 2012

Each year there is a parade in Ballard on the 17th of May (Bergen is a sister city with Seattle) and lapel pins are sold to help with the cost of the celebrations.  While the basic heart shape is retained the designs are slightly different from year to year making the pins very collectible. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Belle -- the rest of her story


The picture above is one of several that have not yet been positively identified but the girl is the right age and bunched in with the right families so it may be Belle shortly after she arrived, ca 1911

After she arrived in this country Belle went to school to learn how to read and write English.  She was first cousins with the children of Karen and Peder Landaas even though she was the age of the next generation down.  She married three times and had one son.  I asked her about some of the people she knew and about her life in America.

"I knew Clara, Clara Lorig.  She was my age, you know.  Her birthday, I think, was the 7th of June and I was the 28th of September.  She was that much older than I was.  She was my age when I came over.  She lived with her folks [Edd and Maggie Lorig].  They lived on 59th at that time.  And so I knew her and I went up to see her the day I left for Alaska in 1918, 1919.  1919.  She just had a baby.  Yes, that’s when Marjorie was born.  And she had Lorraine.  Lorraine wasn’t quite a year old.  So I went up to see her before I left for Alaska.  I went at about 8 o’clock and I think she passed away that morning. 

"She died young, she was very young.  She must have been only about 20 years old, 19, 20.  She wasn’t very old.  We were surprised that she married Dick [Thompson].  But then, you know, that’s their choice and we have to marry who we want.  He wasn’t a policeman, I don’t think, when she married him.  That’s right, he worked for the railroad.  And Tryg and he always said, “Yes, there’s snow all over the mountains this morning.”  That’s when Dick came down there.  And he’d say, Ja, a lot of snow this morning.”  That’s right, he was on the train.

"Clara was a very nice girl.  A very, very beautiful girl.  A pretty girl.  And Lorraine looked an awful lot like her.  I think you all look very much like her.  She was a pretty girl.

"And Maggie, Clara’s mother, I knew Maggie.  Maggie was a character.  When Maggie and Petra got together, you know, they laughed all the time.  They had a lot of fun.  Then they talked about when they were working out in the house.  Maggie had got a house working job.  Oh boy, they laughed at all the little things that sounded so terrible in Norwegian, you know, and it was okay in English.  And they had a lot of fun with that.  Maggie had a lot of fun.  And we used to laugh with them.

"Petra was more, more a dainty type.  She was a very dainty person, very neat.  She had to, just like my mother, she had to always look dressed up pretty.  The two of them, they were very much alike, my stepmother.  Very prompt, very neat.  I’m not that way.  Of course, I am from a different family, we are not blood related.  So I just had a different disposition than my stepmother had." 

Why did she go to Alaska?

"Well, my husband [Elmer Waxham] that I married [they married in March 1917] he was a bookkeeper for a cannery.  So he stayed up there in Alaska in the summertime.  He worked there in the summer in Alaska for three years.  1918, 1919, and 1920.  Then he came down in 1920 in October worked in the office area.  Oh, he worked in the office in the Smith Tower, the 32nd floor in the Smith Tower as a bookkeeper.  After they came down here.  There were several of them in the office.  There was one, Mr. Prey, had a boy there.  And he had gotten word that they were suppose to lay off one of them, one in the office.  And he [Belle's husband] had said, “It’s easier for me to lay off to go and see if I can find another job than it is for him probably because he has a family.”  So he quit.  Because he knew one of them had to go.  And then he went up to, near Arlington, in a logging camp up there he got a job. 

Smith Tower, Seattle, Washington

"He knew this Griffin, either Griffin or Murphy, of the business college.  He knew one of them, I don’t know which it was.  So he was out there on his lunch hour and he met him after he came back from Alaska and he said “Well, anytime you need work, let me know.”  And he said, “I will see if I can help you.”  Well, the second time he met him, he told him he did, if he had anything in mind.  So, he found this job up there for him in the logging camp.  And he rented a room up there and he stayed.  But he worked awfully hard because that was work, working with lumber, you know something different.  So he, when he got through work it was late at night.  This night he had worked late and he was tired and he threw himself down on the bed to rest.  And left the window open and it rained.  It just poured down.  And he got all soaking wet and the bed was wet when he woke up during the night.  And he didn’t want to go into the people because they, that he rented the room from, because they were sound asleep.  So he just went to sleep the way it was and he caught a cold, a terrible cold.  A death of a cold that was what it was, that’s what he did.  He came home Saturday and I had just been to see my mother.  She had just had a goiter operation.  And I saw, we had a, we were not drinkers, but we had a bottle of whiskey, but it was just a little bit left in the bottle.  And when I came home I saw that bottle in the sink, you know, I was thinking, “Oh, what has he been up to?”  And it was broken.  And I went in to find out and I said “What did you do with the bottle?”  And he said, “I was trying to find a waterbottle because I was so cold and I was going to get some hot water.”  He thought he would put it in this bottle.  Put the hot water in the bottle and use that as a hot waterbottle to get warmed up.  And he said, “Then the bottle broke.”  Then he went to bed.  Because I got home after he did, I saw the car outside and I thought something must have happened that he would come home early because I didn’t expect him until that evening.  But he was sick for a week.  He had a doctor but he should have gone to the hospital.  Then he turned out to get appendicitis, it broke and peritonitis set in and he died.

"So that’s the way that happened.  That was only about 3 or 4 years after we were married.  That’s all the long time I married him.  And then I was single for a little while and met his brother [Frank Waxham].  He was in the war [World War I], a sailor.  So, he was in New York.  He got a job on the boats after the war ended.  But they had a strike at that time, an engineer’s strike, and he worked in the engine room.  But, so, he was not working, so we corresponded back and forth--his brother and him and I.  And so I told him, I said, “Your mother is awfully sick.”  And I said, “Now that she lost her youngest son I think it would be nice if you could come and visit her.”  So he came.  And then he stayed for a little while, and then he went back to New York.  And then he came back again.  After one year we got married.  Ha!  So I married two brothers.  Ja.  Then he lived until 1947.  We were married in 1922 the 17th of May.  Norwegian Day.  [Belle laughed.]  So it’s quite a story."

Belle and Frank had a son, also named Frank.  She worked in the cafeteria of the Naval Supply Depot, Pier 91 in Seattle from 1944 to 1970.  After Frank Sr. passed away in 1947 Belle was single again for about 18 years and then she married Jack Homsher who was ten years younger than she.  They married in 1965.  Jack died in 1993.  Belle passed away in 1997 in her 100th year.   

At the time that I visited with them they were living in a retirement home near North Seattle Community College.  She was a delight to visit.  Her long life was not without trials but she always remained cheerful.  Toward the end of her life with her eyesight failing she was still able to laugh at the situations she got into because she couldn't see--such as the talking clock that was one hour off because she couldn't see the numbers to set it for Daylight Savings time.  She also said cooking was difficult that she had tried using a magnifying glass but that didn't work too well either.  Nevertheless she thought they did fairly well remaining independent despite these difficulties.  They were able to use the Metro buses and could still walk and carry their own groceries.  I greatly admired her. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Jørgen Løvland -- biographical sketch

Jørgen Løvland
[photo:  courtesy of Alf Georg Kjetså]

As mentioned in postcard Thursday, 38, here is a brief biography of the Norwegian statesman Jørgen Løvland who is pictured above.  Alf Georg Kjetså sent the photograph and the biographical sketch of Løvland to me in 2005 for the Norwegian centennial celebration.

Jørgen Løvland was a remarkable man, a teacher, politician, customs officer, newspaper editor, and chairman of the Nobel Committee.  He was born 3 February 1848 at Lauvland farm in Evje, Aust Agder, Norway, the son of the farmer Gunnar Olson and his wife Siri Eilevsdatter.  As an interesting side note, on his mother’s side he was second cousin to the statesman Gunnar Knudsen who later also became a prime minister.  Løvlland’s paternal grandparents came from the farms of Haugen and Faret in Hornnes the neighborning community of Evje.

Upon completion of his elementary education he took additional studies as an apprentice teacher with Hans Faret at Hornnes.  Hans Faret gave him the highest honors in the parish.  It was the first and only time such a high grade had been given.

When he was 16 years old he went to teachers’ school in Holt.  He was there just one year before taking his final examination in 1865.  Then beginning in 1866 he began teaching elementary school in Kristiansand.  It was in 1876 that he also managed the county school for the interior communities of Aust Agder.  The school was held in Bygland 1876-1877.  He then took a year off from teaching (Tellef Davidson substituted for him) but Løvland returned to manage the county school in Setesdal and the interior communities of Aust Agder from 1878 to 1884.  He was the first diretor of the county school in these communities.  It was in 1884 that Jørgen Løvland married Laura Mathilde Torkildson from Kristiansand.

His political career began in 1882 when he was selected by the Evje community to meet with the district assembly held in Arendal.  During this time as a member of Parliament he did not take time off from his teaching responsibilities essentially holding down two jobs.

He was back in Kristiansand in 1885.  At that time he was the newspaper editor for “Kr.sands Stiftavis” and the year after that he represented Kristiansand at the Stortinget.  From 1892 to 1897 he was a member of the Parliament, serving as the Labor Minister in 1898 in the Steen administration.  After Steen left office in 1902 Løvland continued in Blehrs administration eventually yielding to the Conservatives in 1903.

When Christian Michelsen, a shipping tycoon from Bergen, became the leader of the coalition government on 11 March 1905 Løvland was appointed as statsminister in Stockholm, Sweden.  Løvland had the difficult job of dissolving the union without causing alienation or offense.  He right predicted that the Swedish King would not willingly sanction the separation.  Next he and two others wrote the protocol.  “I ordered them to write a miracle,” said the King.  “But I did not want to do it,” said Løvland.  “The man who tries to write it will shortly be without a country,” thought Løvland.  So he and the others left Stockholm.  Later that year they returned to Sweden where Løvland was a representative at the Karlstad Conference.  When the union with Sweden was dissolved Løvland became the first Norwegian foreign minister.

There were some other leaders in Otradal who were angry with Løvland because he was able to sanction the Norwegian division.  And because he found himself between those who wanted to have a monarchy and those who were for the republic, there was much anger directed at him.  However, after some time it became apparent that Løvland had showed much foresight.  At the Karlstad Conference the two countries were separated with coming to blows and without the loss of life.  That stands as a shining light of Swedish and Norwegian history, -- indeed for the entire world.

When Michelsen gave up the position of statsminister in 1907 Løvland took over as both prime minister and foreign minister.  But on the 18th of March 1908 he yielded the place to his second cousin Gunnar Knudsen.

For a period of time following he served as a Customs Officer in Oslo but towards the end of 1912 he rejoined the Parliament where he continued to serve between 1913 and 1915.  At that time he represented Aust Telemark.  He was the president of Parliament.  Then on the 17th of May 1914 when Parliament met in Eidsvoll, Løvland held the discussion for the day in Nynorsk.  He was the first president of the Parliament who spoke Nynorsk.

Lake Mjøsen seen from Eidsvold, Norway, ca 1900

It is said that for many years Løvland was the voice of the Liberals in Parliament and beginning 1913 he was the leader of the political movement for language reform in the entire country.  From 1915 to 1920 he was the minister of Church and Education in Gunnar Knudsen’s administration.  In 1917 he introduced the change to Nynorsk from Bokmål.  Then in 1918 he introduced the change over for the county names from “amt” to “fylke” taken from the older Norwegian meaning instead.  At the same time some of the Norwegian county names were changed as well.  He was a good advocate for the secondary schools.

Løvland had a direct, knowledgeable, sensible way of expressing his mind.  In Pariament he was called “The living dictionary or encyclopedia.”  And best of all he had good intentions with a strong desire to work for the benefit of all the people and the country.

From 1897 to 1922 Løvland was a member of the Nobel Committee, and the chairman for 21 years.  He died August 1922.

Everywhere Jørgen Løvland is remembered well.

I express deep appreciation and thanks to my “cousin” and friend, Alf Georg Kjetså, for sharing the photographs and the biographical sketch.

Jørgen Løvland and his wife in a horse drawn carriage.
[photo:  courtesy of Alf Georg Kjetså]

The first time I saw this photograph I didn’t really see all the men in the crowd tipping hats off to honor Løvland.  There is also a mounted guard just behind the carriage. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 38

 The raising of the Norwegian flag at Bergen 10 am on the 9th of June 1905.

Norwegian Constitution Day is May 17th so I thought I would share this postcard.  This occasion marks the first time the flag for the newly independent country of Norway was flown in Bergen.  Christian Michelsen is pictured in the inset.  He was a shipping tycoon from Bergen who became the leader of the coalition government in March 1905.  Another statesman, Jørgen Løvland, comes from Evje og Hornnes, Aust Agder, Norway and I do have biographical information about him that I will post separately. 

From the 1400s to 1814 Norway was under the Danish crown and from 1814 to 1905 it was under the Swedish crown.  The year 1905 marks the separation from Sweden.  At the Karlstad Conference the two countries were separated without coming to blows and without the loss of life.  That stands as a shining light of Swedish and Norwegian history – indeed for the entire world.

Belle Homsher recalled a little song that was popular in Bergen in 1905 about Michelsen.  She sang it for me and I transcribed it as it sounded so it may not be exactly right.  If anyone has heard it and is familiar with the words, please let me know so I can make any corrections. 

“I nitten hundre og fem
var Svenska nok så slem
hvem der var Kristian Michelsen som tam’d dem
Du ma høyliget for mannen
Du ma høyliget for mannen
Du ma høyliget for mannen
Som si her og her”

I think it says something like this in English--

“In nineteen hundred and five
Sweden some say was so bad
It was Kristian Michelsen who tamed them
You must give honor to the man
You must give honor to the man
You must give honor to the man
Some say here and here”

Christian Michelsen and Jørgen Løvland at the conference table, Karlstad, Sweden, 1905

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bergliot becomes Belle -- Journey to America

Hands across the sea

 Belle [Bergliot Elida] left Norway in early April of 1911 to come to America.  She was 14 years old traveling with her father, Bertel Ananias Berentsen and her stepmother, Anna.

I asked her if she was excited to come to America.

“Oh yes.  I was.  To begin with I was very excited to get to come to America.  But I had a cat at home called “Munce.”  I didn’t like to leave my cat.  And when we were on the boat coming over here I was crying and you know how kids are.  And my dad said, “What are you crying about?”  “Oh,” I said, “I wish the doctor would find something wrong with me so he would send me back to Norway.”  He said, “Why do you want to go back to Bergen?”  “Well,” I said, “I want to go back to my cat.”  [Belle laughed.]  My cat meant more to me.  He was such a cute cat.  We used to go play hide and seek at home.

“We came on a ferry steamship across the North Sea into Hull, England.  From there we went by train and boat across the Atlantic in through Canada.  We came in to Canada.  But I don’t, you know, when you are 14 years old you don’t pay too much attention when you’re not interested in scenery or anything.  And . . . when we came into Vancouver, Canada, in the late afternoon and we just missed a train to go to Seattle.  So my dad, he went down and he found out there was this boat leaving.  That was a Princess boat, and so we left, he got us on there, and we got in the next morning at 10, no 8 o’clock.  So, we traveled at night.  And they were surprised when we came.  They expected us the night before.  They were down to the train to meet us but we didn’t come.  My brother (Birger) left that morning for Alaska.  So we didn’t get to see him.  He had that job* to go to in Alaska and he had to get going.  So we didn’t see him until he came back, say in October or late in September. 

“We had family in America.  My brother was here, Birger.  Birger Amungus.  Funny names they had back in the old country.  Hmmm, Mrs. Landaas, Karen Landaas, she was here.  She had a sister here, Gurine.  But I never met her.  She passed away before we came over, it seemed like it.  I don’t remember.  But I know they used to go and see him (Gurine’s husband).  Tryg did anyway.  That’s the one they called “Saude.”  They always called him Saude.  It was a funny name.  The Landaas family, they were great for making up names.  I guess you heard that.  They always had names for everybody.  Different names.  They were very nice.  Sigrid . . . she was Taxi or Tax.  That’s what Harry called her.  And then it was Tryg and then Nora.  They were a pretty good-sized family.  Adolf, Cornelius and Harald and Tryg, that was four boys.  Maggie, Klara, Petra, Sigrid, and Nora.  That’s a big family and to all come over.  In those days the fare was very reasonable, but even so, the wages were smaller too.  So it was just about the same as now, we just had to skimp and scrape to get along. 

“I had to learn to read and write in English, you know.  So I went to a school in Ballard.  They put me in with younger children and I didn’t like that.  Now, I can hardly talk Norwegian.  I could if I had Norwegian people to talk to.  It takes a little time to think about it.  I was trying to tell Jack (her husband) every once and a while what they call this and that in Norway.  I always thought I’d like to take a trip back.  And my son, I don’t remember what year that was; it was before I married again.  You see I was a widow for 18 years between Jack and my other husband.  Let’s see, Frank passed away in 1947 and we got married in 1965.  Him and I.  So, you see that was about 18 years.  So I was going to go and take a trip to Norway.  I belonged to the ladies chorus and I thought, well, they had a tour going so I signed up for it.  But I didn’t, I backed out.  I’ve never been back. 

I have a cousin, you know, he was just a little child.  He was about 2 ½ or 3 years old when we left Norway and he is here in the United States.  Otto was his name.  He was my stepmother’s nephew.  And I call him once in a great while, and he said he goes back every so often.  He said, “You wouldn’t even know the place.”  He said, “If you came back to the place where you lived it’s altogether different.”  It’s so different that he doesn’t even enjoy going any more.  But he has a sister living there.  But they were a big family.  I think there were 11 or 12 kids.  And so he, but there’s only one of them left and that’s Klara.  And she was about 4 or 5 years old when we left.  So she’s the only one and she lives in Oslo.  She is a trained nurse.  She married a captain--ships went back and forth.  They don’t have any children, so she is all alone.  She’s the only one who is living, the only one of his family left.  So he used to go back there quite often.  I don’t think he’s gone back lately; he’s not too good either.  He’s about Jack’s age, about 83.  A youngster.  We’re all youngsters.  I’m the old lady.  (Belle was 93 at the time.)

To be continued.


* Birger worked in the canneries in Alaska and later on the ships that went up and down the coast from Alaska to Seattle and further south.  He often shipped out of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  

Monday, May 7, 2012

Update: Thomas LeRoy Ford

Thomas LeRoy Ford

There have been a couple of people who have indicated interest in the Ford branch of the Lorig family hence this update is about Thomas LeRoy Ford (aka Lee Roy or Uncle Tall Ford) who was born 6 May 1855 in Trenton township, Henry County, Iowa and died 13 February 1916 in Henry County, Iowa.  Lee Roy Ford was married three times, first to Ellen M. Crouch in 1878, second to Margaret Mae “Maggie” Lorig in 1883, and third to Laura Moore in 1906.  He was later divorced from Laura.  He had seven children with Maggie but no children are listed with his other two wives. 

Six of the seven sons of Thomas LeRoy Ford
[oldest to youngest:  Ralph Henry, Ray James, LeRoy Albert, Earl Marion, Ellis Fernando, Charlie Harold.  Not pictured Guy Lee who died as an infant]

Ellen Crouch Ford died at age 17 in 1879.  She is buried in Old Richwoods Cemetery, Trenton Township, Henry County, Iowa.  The gravestone gives her birth year as 1862.  It was originally thought that she was born and lived in Iowa but I recently learned that she and her sister, Dora Ann, may have possibly have been born in Ohio.  Ellen’s mother was Rebecca Guyton.  When Ellen’s father died Rebecca took her two children by John and perhaps some children from her first marriage and moved from Cedar County, Iowa to Henry County to be closer to her family. 

I did find a John Crouch born in 1828 in Ohio, living in Green, Harrison, Ohio in 1850, the son of Levi Crouch born about 1783 and his wife, Mary born about 1793.  Children in the family at the time of the 1850 census* were Mary, age 24, John, age 22, William, age 20, and a Mary Lyons age 15.  Her relationship to the family was not provided.  I also found Civil War draft** information on John who was drafted into the Union Army in July 1863.  At the time of the draft he was living at Springfield, Cedar County, Iowa.  The next step will be to see if Rebecca received some type of Civil War pension because I think it likely John died either during the Civil War or shortly thereafter.  Ellen was born about a year before John entered the army. 

Rebecca Guyton (alternate spelling Guiton) was the daughter of Samuel Guyton born 1782 and died 1844 and Ann Chance born 1784.  Samuel and Ann were married 21 December 1808 in the First Methodist Episcopal Church, Baltimore, Maryland.  The children of Samuel and Ann were:  Dorcas, born 1800, died 1878; Elisha born 1807 died 1891; Mary Ann born 1814 died 1874; Rebecca born 1822 died 1907; and Nancy born 1830 died 1904.  Dorcas married John Wesley Ford who was the uncle of Thomas LeRoy Ford. 

Rebecca was married three times, first to Joseph Keesecker in 1844 with whom she had the following children:  Tabitha Ann, born 1845, died 1924; George born 1847 died 1910; Lucy A. born 1849; Mary born 1850; Eliza Jennie born 1851; Joseph born 1853.  Joseph Keesecker was born 1823 and died 1853.  John Crouch was her second husband they had two children:  Dora Ann and Ellen.  Her third husband was James Mitts.  They married in November 1871 in Henry County, Iowa.  No children are listed for the third marriage.  If there are Ford family members reading this who have corrections and/or additional information that we can add to this family group I would appreciate hearing from you. 

If I find out more I will post another update. 


*  Source reference for 1850 Census, Green, Harrison County, Ohio, NARA M432, page 234B as found on
** Source reference for Civil War Draft Registration, NM-65, entry 172 as found on

Additional  information such as names & dates compiled from Foard, Forde, Ford by Helen Ford Gisser, and

Baby blessing day

Yesterday was the big day.   T-Bone wore her beautiful blessing gown, had pictures taken, and had a full house of family there to celebrate with her.  Pretty baby dressed like a princess.

We had to spread her out on the lawn in order to get the entire length of the gown in.  The baby only fills up about one half of the dress!  Mrs. Gimlet and Curly's mom did an incredible job making it.  It is just so lovely. 

Closer view of the Hardanger lace on the edge of the dress.

Curly, Bee and Baby makes three.

"Are you done taking pictures now?"

Friday, May 4, 2012

Bergliot Elida Berentsen, Belle -- remembering her early years

Bergen, Norway ca 1900

I visited Auntie Belle several times in her home and on one occasion I took a tape recorder.  Belle was almost 93 years old at that time and lived into her 100th year.  She passed away 14 April 1997.  She was rather proud of her longevity remaining spry and cheerful to the end.  She had lost considerable eyesight but still managed to get around fairly well.  She laughed about how she sometimes was surprised at what she had picked up at the grocery store, as she couldn’t see well enough to read the labels on the cans.  She was great fun to visit. 

Here is a little background to place her in the family.  Belle was born in Bergen, Norway on 28 September 1896.  Her Norwegian name was Bergliot Elida Berentsen however that was changed to Belle when she came to America.  She was the youngest of the three children born to Bertel Ananias Berentsen and Elen Nikoline Ingebrightsen.  Her brothers were Ingvald Kristofer Berentsen, born 8 January 1886, and Birger Amandus (sometimes written as Amungus) Berentsen, born 29 December 1893.  Ingvald remained in Norway but Birger came to America with his aunt Karen Landaas in July 1909.  Not quite two years later in April 1911 Belle left Norway at age 14 with her father, Bertel Ananias (Uncle Nias) and her stepmother, Anna (Tante Anna).  Nias was a half-brother to Karen Landaas being the child of her mother, Kristi Mor, and her mother’s second husband, Berent Berentsen.  I so wished I had a picture of her but Belle had had a facial palsy as an adult so she was self-conscious and would not let me take any photos of her. 

I asked her about her life in Norway. 

“I was born in Bergen.  I was there until my mother passed away.  And I was 2 ½ years old when my mother passed away.  I was born in Bergen and I was baptized in Johannes Kirken in Bergen and I was confirmed for Laksevag.  That’s right across from Bergen.  Then after my dad remarried, then we moved out to the country, you see.  My dad was a seaman.  So he wasn’t even home.  He didn’t come home until about six months after my mother passed away.  Well, we had an aunt living out in that neighborhood of Haakonsalle, and she, she was the one who tried to . . . and I guess my aunt here in America, tried to get us distributed around.  My aunt, Mrs. Landaas, Karen Landaas, she lived in Bergen.  She went over and looked in on my mother when she was sick in bed for a while.  Then she had a little help.  And my oldest brother, he was the one who took care of us kids and the house.  So he wasn’t very old.  He was only 13 years old.

“And I had another brother, younger.  But he was 2 ½ years older than I was.  I was the youngest one of three.  So we were three kids.  So then one was placed in one family.  My oldest brother lived with my aunt out for Haakonsalle.  But I was put over in Alvern (Alvøen) to a lady; she had another little girl my age, a little older than I was.  For about six months until my dad came home.  And then he had to find another place for us kids.  So he had to, he got busy and he met this lady.  That’s where she lived, that’s where her folks lived, out there.  Up for Haakonsalle, that‘s what it’s called now.  Haakonsalle.  That’s about a mile, seven American miles from Bergen.  Like from Ballard to Seattle.

“My dad was the half-brother of Karen Landaas.  My grandmother, she married again.  Her name was Olsen, I think, when Karen Landaas and them were born.  But he is a Berentsen.  And that was my grandmother’s name.  She lived at the Frue Enkehus in Bergen.  All the old women lived there when they got older and couldn’t take care of themselves.  Frue Enkehus in Bergen. 

Kalfaveien, Frue Enkehus,* Bergen, Norway, ca 1900

“My grandfather, I think he drowned.  He was a “fløtmann” they called it in Bergen.  A fløtmann, that’s the same as carrying, as had a boat and carrying people.  A ferryboat, like.  But it was just an ordinary rowboat, I think.  And he drowned; I think that’s the way it happened.  It’s quite a long story.

“Anyway, they didn’t have a place to leave us.  All three kids were in different places when my dad came home.  So then he had to get us together to find somebody who would take care of us, all in one place.  So he found this lady and about a year later, I guess, they married.  They married in 1901, the 15th of January 1901.

Tante Anna,** ca 1910

“Then we lived with another family till after my father came home and they got married and got settled and then they rented a place.  A room, that’s all they could get.  Until they got their house built and moved in.  And so we lived . . . let’s see, her folks owned a big farm up for Lindaastjerne, that was the name of it.  And her folks owned that farm, but he had just turned it over to his son.  You see, the oldest one, back there, was supposed to have the farm and the others just got a little plot for their house.  So she had a sister, another sister, my stepmother, and she got a plot over on the east side where he (the brother) lived.  The grandfather was in the middle and we got a plot over on the west side overlooking the bay.  It was really nice.  We lived in a really nice place there.  That was a very pretty inlet there where we lived.  Very beautiful.  We could stand outside of our window and wave to the ships.  My dad, if he were on the boat coming into Bergen then they always tooted the horn when he came in.   And when he left they did the same thing.  Because if you went south, and he had to go that way to get out to the North Sea across to the other countries.  We lived there until I was 14 years old.  I would be 15 in September.  We came to America in April and I would be 15.  So I was 14 years old when I left Norway. 

“My grandmother, Kristi Mor, she used to come out and visit us.  I always remember that because I was just a youngster, you know, and she used to use, have snuff.  That was supposed to be good for her asthma.  I guess it was asthma she had.  She put a little bit up in her nose, in her nostrils.  And we used to think that was so funny!  But back there, you know, we went to visit some other older, my stepmother’s older relations.  They lived way up by the ocean, up close by the North Sea.  And they used to smoke, that, what do you call them, clay pipes.  And, you know, us kids, when you’re kids you get a kick out of just about anything.  You think that’s so funny.  So that’s the way it was, but I remember my grandmother using that snuff.  But it wasn’t very much. 

“She had a skaut.  That’s what they call it in Norway.  It was wired, I guess, or a frame or something.  I don’t know just how it was.  Oh you know, I wish I had a picture of it so you see it. “

Later I did find this photo of Kristi Mor wearing the skaut and dressed in a traditional everyday type costume.  

Kristi Mor wearing a skaut

To be continued.


*  I am not absolutely certain this is the Frue Enkehus but it seems like one of the older relatives told me at some time in the past that it was.  If anyone reading knows more, I would appreciate hearing from you.

**  As a small child I was enchanted and fascinated by Tante Anna.  She was so very tiny, dressed in black, and was 101 years old!  I remember seeing her at Aunt Wilhelmina’s house for some sort of Landaas family gathering.  I was quite young.  My grandmother was not quite 5’ tall, yet Tante Anna was smaller.  Like my grandmother, Tante Anna, liked to wear necklaces and bracelets.  She was an altogether delightful little lady.  She was almost the size of a child.  All the older relatives fussed over her quite a bit too.  It may have been her birthday.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 37

Le Palais du Luxembourg, ca 1900

I thought it might be interesting to compare these two pictures, one taken around 1900 and the other in April 2012. 

Le Palais du Luxembourg, 2012

Completed in 1631 this building was once the royal palace until the Revolution.  At various times it has been used as a prison, headquarters for the Luftwaffe during World War II, bomb shelters were under the gardens and it is now used by the French Senate.  It is located inside a large lovely park on the Left Bank called the Jardin due Luxembourg.  The park was not too far from our hotel and we walked through it on our first day in Paris.  There are two other parks to the south that are only separated by the streets so it is an immense green area altogether.   The gardens are all symmetrical with the trees cut in precise lines—rectangles, circles, and triangles and several statues and fountains.  Every shape is symbolic, the triangle points to heaven, the circles represent the eternal nature, and the rectangles order in the world.  One of the parks was a “nature or natural park” but it was as planned and orderly as the others.  Pleasing to look at, restful even, but to me they all show that man made them and seem like gardens more than parks.  It was interesting and quite different from the nature parks and wildlife preserves we have here in the US.  

Looking toward the Jardin du Luxembourg

Pond in the Jardin du Luxembourg.
Children often sail small toy boats in the pond although the day were there we did not see any doing so.  As in most of the parks we visited there are statues along the walkway.  Part of the Eiffel Tower can be seen in the background.

Looking from the Jardin du Luxembourg toward the Jardin des Grands Exploratuers

Fountain in the Jardin des Grands Explorateurs