Tuesday, February 18, 2014

52 Ancestors: #7 ~ Was my 2nd Great-Grandfather a Norwegian Sea Captain?

This is part of the "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" Challenge begun by Amy Johnson Crow, author of the blog No Story Too Small.

Was my paternal 2nd great-grandfather, Ole Anthon Christopherson, really a sea captain? The reason I'm even asking this is because of something I saw written at the top of two separate family group sheets. The family group sheets were among family history items sent to me by my cousin's wife. These items were found in my Aunt Joan's house. My Aunt Joan passed away in 1993.

Here's a cropped portion of one of those family group sheets.


Christopherson, Ole Anthon - Family Group Sheet

See the words (Sea Captain) written next to Ole's name? I don't know who wrote that. I wish I did. I wish I could ask them why they thought Ole was a Sea Captain.

Ole was the second of seven children born to Michael Christian Christopherson and Serianna Olsdatter. He was born on April 20 or 21 in 1837 in
Tromsø, Troms, Norway. I have April 21 as Ole's birthdate in my genealogy database. Apparently, I need to do some research to find out Ole's exact date of birth.

According to the 1900 U.S. federal census,
1 Ole immigrated to the United States in 1870. His parents and siblings also emigrated from Norway to the United States.

Ole, who also went by his middle name Anthon, is listed in the 1875 state census in Benton, Swift County, Minnesota
2 along with his wife Aslaug and stepson Halvar. This shows that he indeed came to America before 1875.

Christopherson, Ole Anthon and Family - 1875 Benson, Swift, Minnesota State Census

Ole married Aslaug Nielson Aamodt. I have Aslaug's name as Auslag Nilsdatter in my genealogy database. I'm not sure which surname is correct. She was the daughter of Nils Tollefson and Anne Jonsdatter. Aslaug also went by the name of Esther.

Ole and Aslaug were the parents of seven children. Aslaug had a child named Halvar from a previous marriage. According to the 1900 U.S. federal census, Aslaug was the mother of eight children, six of whom were living at the time the census was taken.

Ole and Aslaug's children:

  1. Halvar Thomas Christopherson (1868-Abt. 1841) [Ole's stepson. Halvar took his stepfather's surname]
  2. Anna Christopherson (1875-1913) [my great-grandmother]
  3. Christopher Christopherson (1875-1877)
  4. Serena May Christopherson (1878-1949)
  5. Nels Anthon Michael Christopherson (1879-1955)
  6. Julia Christine Christopherson (1882-?)
  7. Elsie Elizabeth Christopherson (1888-?
  8. Child Christopherson (?-Bef. 1900)
In the 1880 U.S. federal census,3 Ole's occupation was listed as a farmer. And in the 1900 U.S. federal census, Ole's occupation was listed as a boarding house keeper.

So, when was he a Sea Captain? Or was he a Sea Captain? If he was, perhaps it was while he lived in Norway. He was around 33 years old when he immigrated to the United States. And as far as I know, he was unmarried while he lived in Norway.

According to the biography called "A Smile of Approval" written about Ole's sister Anne, the Christopherson family lived in
Kristiansund, Norway for about 17 years. Kristiandsund is along the western coast of Norway. When Ole was 20 years old, the family moved to Drammen, Norway, which is not too far from Oslo. That would have been around 1857. And not too long after the family moved to Drammen, they moved to a farm in Lier, which borders Drammen.

I found this interesting picture on the Wikipedia website. It shows Kristiandsund during the early 1840s. Just look at all of the ships!



Kristiansund, Norway in the early 1840s - Wikipedia No Copyright
Kristiansund, Norway in the early 1840s
Wikipedia - No Copyright

I found the photograph below on the Wikimedia Commons website. It was taken in 2008 and shows the city of Kristiansund in the background and Fugløya Island in the center.


Fugløya in center, parts of Kristiansund city in the background - Wikimedia Commons Harald Oppedal Photographer
Fugløya Island and parts of Kristiansund
Wikimedia Commons - Harald Oppedal, Photographer

Here's another photograph of Kristiandsund. I found this on the Encyclopaedia Britannica website. 4

Kristiansund, Norway
Kristiansund, Photograph, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online, accessed February 18, 2014, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/media/147920/Kristiansund-Nor
Photographer - Eaglestein

Isn't Kristiansund a beautiful place?

I find it fascinating to think that my 2nd great-grandfather may have been a Sea Captain in Norway. I wonder if there are any records available that would help me to find out if Ole really was a Sea Captain or not. If you have any ideas, please let me know in the comments below. 
Thank you!

Thanks for reading!


© 2014 Copyright by Jana Last, All Rights Reserved




1 Year: 1900; Census Place: Benson, Swift, Minnesota; Roll: 793; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 0270; FHL microfilm: 1240793. Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.
2 Year: 1875; Census Place: Benson, Swift, Minnesota; Roll: V290_100; Page 23; Line 38. Ancestry.com. Minnesota, Territorial and State Censuses, 1849-1905 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
3 Year: 1880; Census Place: Torning, Swift, Minnesota; Roll: 635; Family History Film: 1254635; Page: 241B; Enumeration District: 029; Image: 0489. Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. 1880 U.S. Census Index provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints © Copyright 1999 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
4 Kristiansund, Photograph, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online, accessed February 18, 2014, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/media/147920/Kristiansund-Nor

4 comments:

  1. Wow, beautiful! It seems plausible that Ole may have worked on the sea in some way given the locations of Kristiansund and Drammen. My Scandinavian research has only been in Denmark, but I know that they took a census that listed people's occupations. Did Norway have something similar? Or, if you can track his parents and six siblings (and perhaps the births of any nieces or nephews in the right time frame) in Norwegian birth and marriage records, perhaps you'll be able to get an idea whether working on the sea was in the family. Maybe it will turn out that his father was a sea captain, or his brother was a sailor, which could lend credibility to the story. My only other thought would be that if there's a maritime museum of some kind in the area, perhaps they hold records. It must have been quite a change for Ole to go from living by the sea to Minnesota! Good luck with your search!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Melanie,

      What awesome research ideas! Thank you!

      Delete
  2. Wow! I have a Sea Captain too! He came to California circa 1825 per his obituary in 1885. I found him eventually in 1847, sailing the coast of California. I found his port arrival and departure announcements in the HISTORICAL NEWSPAPERS for California. I managed to figure out he had served on 3 different vessels with 1 specific Captain from Scotland during the late Mexican California era. Good Luck! I look forward to your future posts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow! How wonderful that you were able to verify that your ancestor was a Sea Captain with all of those records! Congrats to you on your research finds!

      Delete

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