Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Looking For a Needle In a Høystakk*

Traditional Norwegian Haystack
by Kjetil Lenes, via Wikimedia Commons

I'll admit it.  I have become spoiled with the relative ease in finding names of ancestors and relatives in US census records.  Now that I am continuing to search for more information about my Norwegian ancestors, I also decided to take another look at the materials in my Norway Research folder before I jumped into this.  I knew from previous efforts that it would be much more involved than searching for a US census record.

My folder has a number helpful resources I've gathered over the years.  I had written about them in a previous post but knew I needed to have them close at hand once again.  These resources included:
  • "Norse Code" by David A Fryxell, a digital download purchased from  This contains a brief history with timeline for Norway, lists of helpful web sites, and basic descriptions of the different types of records kept by the Lutheran Church.
  •'s "Norwegian Genealogical World List".  This plus Google Translate is a necessity when I "read" those church records written in Norwegian.
  • "Parish Register Examples, Norway", a pdf download from  When you don't really read Norwegian, this helps to select the correct column in which to look for a person's name in one of the church registers.
  • Maps of Norway, downloaded from Digital Archives of Norway.  I especially rely on the map showing parish names, locations, and numbers.
From previous research I knew that my 3 GreatGrandparents were Anders Pettersen and Marit Jorgensdr and that they had lived in the Lesja area of Oppland, Norway.  To learn more about them and other family members meant returning to the scanned church records available on the Digital Archives of Norway.  Admittedly, it has taken me a while to locate just one record, the marriage record of my 3 GreatGrandparents Anders Pettersen and Marit Jorgensdr.(1)

Oppland Parish (Lesja, Norway), Lesja Minister Book 3 (1777-1819)

On page 494 of a minister's book, I found this record concerning Anders Pettersen, resident of the Myren farm, and Marit Jorgensdr.  It is outlined in green in the screen shot above.  Information outlined in red listed that they were registered on 13 Aug 1797.  The writing in blue is still a bit of a mystery.  One of the Norwegian words for engagement is "engasjement", the word written there, while one of the terms for wedding is "bryllup".  (That's why I keep the Norwegian Word List next to my laptop).  It looked as if this record might be for their engagement rather than of their marriage.

I continued to look through the rest of the records for 1797, looking for another record for Anders and Marit, one for their marriage.  No luck.  I also looked back through previous records in 1797 to see if there was a record for the posting of the banns.  Again no luck, except for finding a "trolovelse" record for them in June, 1797.  "Trolovelse" is Norwegian for betrothal.  So, perhaps the 13 Aug date was a marriage ceremony preceded by the public recording of their plan to marry recorded back in June 1797.  For now, I will be using the 13 Aug 1797 date as the probable date of their marriage, listing it in Family Tree Maker as "about 13 Aug 1797".

This possible fact involved strained eyes, a number of hours, and dog-eared resources, but it was worth it to possibly have found one small needle among many large haystacks [or høystakks as long as I'm floundering in Norwegian documents].

* haystack

(1)  Oppland Parish (Lesja, Norway), Lesja Minister Book 3 (1777-1819), "August Married 1797"; accessed through Digital Archives of Norway.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Veterans Day, 2014: Remembering the Past

Field of Poppies, Tower of London
By Ian Pegg (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Tower of London 2014
By Scarretero (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (]
via Wikimedia Commons

This past week, I have seen several images which pointed my thoughts toward the observance of Veterans Day.  The first were pictures I saw of the poppy memorial at the Tower of London.  The monument, which is titled "Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red", contains 888,246 ceramic red poppies that have been placed in the moat area of the Tower of London.  Each poppy commemorates the death of a soldier of the British Commonwealth during World War I.(1)   The monument in its simplicity makes a powerful statement.

A very different image was the snapshot of a military cemetery which I found in a family photo album.  The handwritten note on the back indicates it was taken on Okinawa in 1945.  My father served with the US Army and was stationed on Okinawa in the final year of World War II.  This photo was something he brought back from his time spent on Okinawa.  Try as I might, I have not been able to enlarge it enough to clearly read the symbols and inscription on the crosses.  All that is clear is that it is the burial place of apparently hundreds of soldiers killed in World War II.  

Okinawa 1945
photo from personal collection

Today Veterans Day is celebrated in a number of ways.  For many it is a federal holiday, for others it means parades or patriotic programs in schools.  But for all of us it should be a day to recognize, honor, and commemorate our country's military.  As the US Department of Veterans Affairs reminds us on their web site ...

The ... observance of Veterans Day ... not only preserves the historical significance of the date [Armistice Day], but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day:  A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
On this day I especially want to remember these veterans about whom I have written during the past year.
(1) "888,246 Poppies Pour Like Blood From the Tower of London to Remember the Fallen Soldiers of WWI",, Nov 2014.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tuesday's Tips : A New Way to Search For Records

My usual way to research a branch of my family tree is to follow one individual at a time as long as I can.  The "Until I Reach a Brick Wall" approach.  Reading some of Randy Seaver's recent posts had led me to consider using a different approach.  In his Genea-Musings blog Randy wrote of "mining" a specific database for family members.

I had been writing about the Camp family for some months, and I was now ready to revisit the Myren branch of my family.  Time to leave the South, Tidewater Virginia, and the Civil War and head to North Dakota and the life of Norwegian immigrants.  Trouble was, I wasn't sure just where or with whom I wanted to start.  I decided to follow Randy's advice and to try focusing on one specific database for Myren family information.

Previously I had used FindAGrave to record burial information for some of the Myren family members buried at Hillsboro Cemetery #1 in Hillsboro, North Dakota.  My search for Myrens listed 11 people buried at that cemetery.

Myrens buried in Hillsboro Cemetery #1, Hillsboro, ND

I recognized the listings for my GreatGrandparents Carrie (Kari) S Myren and Peter Peterson Myren and my  2Great Uncle Anders Myren.   Also listed were my Great Uncles Adolph, Carl P, and Paul S Myren as well as my Great Aunts Anna and Julia Myren.  

Seeing this listing, I made sure that I had recorded the birth and death dates from grave markers as well as cemetery information for each of these family members.  Citing each fact that I recorded in Family Tree Maker went quickly because I could make a copy of the citation for the first family member, then just edit in the correct data for the next family member.  I could copy the FindAGrave information for Adolph Myren then edit the name and dates in my citation for his sister Julia Myren's FindAGrave record.

Source Citations screen shot, Family Tree Maker 2014

Missing, however, were several family members who I thought would have be buried at this cemetery, my Great Aunts Pauline and Olga.  Also, I knew very little about Annie Myren and nothing about William Myren. 

Right away, I had a new To-Do List: (1) locate information related to the burials of Pauline and Olga and (2) learn more about Annie and William.  By focusing on these four names (Pauline, Olga, Annie, and William Myren), I was able to learn more about each of them in a relatively short time.  This time I used some of my usual search strategies -,, Mocavo, and Genealogy Search Engine - as well as looking at census records and local histories available online.

In a little over an hour, I had found the following information about these relatives:
  • Pauline Myren, as an adult, preferred to spell her surname as Myron, a fact that had slipped my mind when initially searching for her burial location.  She too is buried in the same cemetery, Hillsboro Cemetery #1, as her parents and brothers.  Searching for information on Pauline was what lead me to find her request for a pen pal, the letter written by Pauline in 1911.
  • Olga Myren had married Adolph Rognlie.  Her FindAGrave memorial page lists her just as Olga Rognlie with no mention of Myren.  Olga Myren Rognlie is buried in Hillsboro Cemetery #1 but her husband Adolph Rognlie's burial place was listed as "unknown" while his place of death was noted as being Washington state.  Looking further into this is will probably be added to my To-Do List.
  • Annie Myren, identified through various census records, was the second wife of Anders Peterson Myren.  Anders' first wife, Oline Jorgensdatter Ateigen, was listed as buried in the Elmwood Cemetery of Hillsboro, ND.  By using both United States and North Dakota state census records found on, I was able to follow Annie Myren as she continued to live in Hillsboro, ND until her death in 1949. 
  • William C Myren was one of the four children born to Anders Myren and his second wife Annie.

I also decided to pass on some information to others researching the Myren family by requesting that the FindAGrave memorial pages for my GreatGrandparents, Peter Myren and Kari Siem Myren, include the links to the FindAGrave information of their children.  Some of my editing requests were done within a few days.  Others of my requests are still waiting to be posted.

Lessons learned:  Thanks to Randy Seavers' suggestion, I plan to search within one database or type or record as part of my research strategies with a family.  This experience with FindAGrave showed me how it provided a family overview and then showed some areas where I needed to look for new or additional information.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Looking for a Pen Pal

The Farmers Voice, 15 July 1911.

At the age of 13 my Great Aunt Pauline Myren wrote a letter to the children's page of The Farmers Voice.  She was hoping to find a pen pal or at least to receive some letters or postcards from other readers.  Here is her letter.(1)
     This is the first time I have written to the Farmers Voice, nor have I seen any letters from this part of the country, altho I have been a reader of the Voice almost a year.  I like the boys' and girls' page extremely well.  I am 13 years old, will be 14 on the 19th of January, 1912.  Who else has 14?  I am now a freshman of the Hillsboro high school.  I graduated from the eighth grade June 1st, 1911.  I like to go to school fine and dandy, altho I am glad when we have a vacation.  Daddy has a farm of 160 acres.  He had 3 cows, 8 horses, and quite a number of chickens.  We stay in town during the winter months, but we usually stay on the farm in summer until the last of August when we pack up and get ready for school.  Our farm is 3 1/2 miles from town.  Our town has a population of about 1,800.  There are many nice residences in the town.  I almost always see, when looking over the girls' and boys' page letters from Illinois.  There are a large number of Illinois people but we welcome them and also more.  I would like to receive some postcards, other views, or comics, from the Farmers Voice readers.  I will answer all I get.
                                                                                  Pauline Myren, Hillsboro, ND                      

Pauline's letter was printed in the July 15, 1911 issue of The Farmers Voice.  Finding this letter was one of those serendipitous things, but what a little treasure it is.  Once again googling a relative's name and location lead me to an unexpected resource.  I'm sure I had a huge grin on my face as I read that letter for the first time.

I knew the location of the the Myren family farm on their homestead near Hillsboro, North Dakota and had visited the farm as a child.  It was interesting to read about the farm from Pauline's perspective, plus her description of the livestock on the farm adds a lot to my picture of life on the farm.

My mother had spoken of how her grandparents (Pauline's parents) maintained two houses in North Dakota.  One was in the town of Hillsboro where the family lived during the school year so that the children could attend school.  Over the years, the family occasionally had some of the single, female teachers boarding with them for the year.  Their other house was located several miles out from Hillsboro on the family's 160 acre homestead.  The homestead house was where the family lived d
uring the summer so they could all work on the farm, just as Pauline related in her letter.  In the heritage scrapbook I made some years ago are photos of both of their homes.

Myren home on the family homestead, Trail County, North Dakota

Myren family home in the town of Hillsboro, ND

I don't know how many letters Aunt Pauline received after her request in The Farmers Voice.  Lots, I hope.  After all, Pauline was a career postal employee and worked in the Hillsboro Post Office, and a brother Paul Myren was a long time letter carrier.

(1) "For the Boys and Girls."  The Farmer's Voice, 15 July 1911.  Online archives.