Well, this has been a long time coming, hasn’t it? Turns out, life gets busy in the summer. At the Big Airline, things are a’changin’. The powers that be are moving to a more seasonal approach to flight planning, meaning heavy schedules in the summer months and lighter ones in the winter. Following the market demand, which is turning out to be profitable. Who knew???
All that to say that it’s been tricky finding time to blog, or frankly even to research. I’m actually on a layover now, trying a new approach to keeping up. I’m using the Word Press app on my iPad, and I loaded some photos and records into Dropbox that I thought I might use. (That was my biggest sticking point: not having access to my pictures and documents.)
So, let’s take this baby out for a spin and see how she does!
For the majority of my ancestors, English has been their first language. But, I have two lines in my family tree that involve other languages. My father’s mother was born in Massachusetts, but all her family were French Canadian and spoke French. My mom’s father’s mother was Norwegian, having immigrated as a young girl.
I have no experience speaking or learning Norwegian. I did, however, spend about a week in French class in high school. It about broke my brain, trying to wrap my head around all those letters that you don’t pronounce. All taught by a French teacher with one of the strongest New York accents I have ever, even to this day, heard.
So, dropped that class like a hot potato and enrolled in the German class instead. Whew! Now, there’s a logical language.
But, alas, none of my ancestors came from Germany. At least, none that I have found.
And, being intimidated by Norwegian’s strange characters and French’s seemingly random pronunciation of various letters, I have concentrated on the low-hanging fruit of English records. But, I know that eventually I will have to man up and tackle them both, if I want to find those rich, historical stories that I desire.
So, I am going to try to dissect a record today, in Norwegian, and see how far I can get.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I am now home again, and wow, writing this is So. Much. Easier. on my computer.)
Below is an example of a record in Norwegian. It’s the 1866 marriage record of my great-great grandparents, Hans Tobias Olson and Tori Jacobsdatter. As you can see, these historical records have additional challenges, in addition to the language barrier. The handwriting and font can sometimes be very hard to decipher, and the scan might not be very clear.
Hans and Tori are entry number 6:
I can figure out some of the information from prior knowledge.
The first column is obviously the date: 20 April.
The second column is their names: Hans Tobias Olsen and Tori Jacobsdatter. The words right before each of their names are repeated for each couple on the page, so I’m going to surmise that they simply mean groom and bride.
The third column is their farm names: Soland and Glenrange. Farm names were used along with the patronymic system to help distinguish one Hans Olsen from another.
The fourth column is their ages: 28 1/2 and 24 1/2.
The fifth and sixth columns appear to be the groom’s and the bride’s fathers’ names: Ole Johannes Håkonsen and Jakob Tobias Tonnessen.
The first column after the page break stumps me. Perhaps witnesses? Frankly, the rest of the columns are a bit of a mystery, too.
I’m going to see if the Family Search Wiki for Norway can help me.
And, why yes, it has! I’ve found a great article in the Norway “How to” Guides: Digitalarkivet: Church Records. (You might need to sign into Family Search for some of these links to work.)
(And, now I’m off on a rabbit trail on inserting those special Norwegian alphabetic characters. There are several ways to do this, but I’ve just used this website for the special character “å” in Johannes’ name above. Painless! I’m going to bookmark this one.)
So, back to the How To Guide. It instructs me to head over to the National Archives of Norway site. But, the link is incorrect. I correct it by removing anything after the forward slash. That’s better. And, I select “English” on the top of the page.
And, this is where the Family Search article breaks down, or hasn’t been updated. Clicking around, I find Parish Registers under the menu icon. And, now I feel like I am off-roading on my own!
I found the church books, and the site is still in English, so I insert the year and type of record I’m searching. I also need to know the county, which is Vest-Agder, and the parish, which is Flekkefjord. Thankfully, both are in drop-down menus, which makes it easier.
That search turned up zero results, so I remove “marriage” from the search and get quite a few results.
I don’t know what the letters dp, kf, etc., mean, but I can see that they are hyperlinked. Hovering my mouse over each one, I discover that “vi” means marriage records 1850-1869. That looks promising. Nope. I search the next book.
And, there they are! It’s the same image I have above, but with the source information attached.
But, still no translation of the information columns. Hummm… Where to now?
I need a snack. Be right back.
OK. That’s better. And, armed with some brain fuel, I had the bright idea of just posting on the Norwegian Genealogy Facebook group and asking what the columns are for. But, then I thought that would be cheating and would defeat the purpose of this post, which is to learn how to figure this out on my own.
Back to the “How To Guide” at Family Search. And, I think I’ve found the mother lode: Norwegian Parish Record Headings! Now, isn’t that handy?
And, here it is, the key to all the information on the second page of the record:
So, armed with the list above, I now know that the names in the first column (on the right hand side of the page) are the bondsmen. The next column lists the dates the bans were read in church: April 2, April 8, and April 15. Next is the person requesting the the bans: the bridegroom. Nothing in the column for why the bans weren’t read. Next is the date of smallpox or certificate of vaccination. Hans was vaccinated June 9, 1838, and Tori was vaccinated July 13, 1844. Nothing in the next column with information about the bridegrooms salary or pension. And, nothing in the last column with information about any prior marriages.
Well, if you have stuck with me through all of this, then I commend you. It’s been a valuable exercise for me. I’ve discovered that blogging on my iPad just won’t work for me. I have navigated the National Archives of Norway for the first time, and I’ve found out just how helpful a wiki can be.
Now, I still need to figure out French-language sites. But, that’s another day.
‘Til next time.