Monday, March 23, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over, Week 12: Sharing Research on WikiTree

Last week's e-mail had an interesting, make that huge, BSO (bright, shiny object). Someone had written me concerning a blog post I wrote over a year ago about my husband's 2GGrandfather, Elijah Hillhouse. In the post I had written about Elijah's military service in two different conflicts. This e-mail was a BSO as I have been running into dead ends in my Norwegian research and felt I could use a break.

The e-mail asked if I would share some of Elijah's information on WikiTree.  I had registered to participate in WikiTree several years ago, but I had not been involved in posting any information there.  This correspondence gave me the impetus to look more closely at WikiTree and how the site operates.

The primary reason I have been looked at WikiTree at all was its emphasis on citing sources for information and its collaborative nature in developing family trees. Before I started working in an existing WikiTree, I wanted to start building a tree of my one. This would give me a chance to learn more about how the whole system operates.

Because I have been so involved in researching my Norwegian ancestors during the Genealogy Do-Over weeks, I felt this was the time to share my work on WikiTree in addition to updating my tree on Ancestry.  I did a GEDCOM ancestor export from Family Tree Maker of my Grandfather Michael Myren (the son of two Norwegian immigrants) and his ancestors. The next day I received an e-mail from WikiTree accepting my contribution.  My contribution of Michael Myren's tree was accepted in its entirety as there were no apparent duplicate names with those in other WikiTrees. So far I haven't received any contact from others researching my ancestors, but I am hoping that sometime in the future I will.

Before I started to add some information about Elijah Hillhouse to the existing WikiTree, I spent time reading the details the website provides on editing and citing information.  Adding bits of specific information wasn't as simple as uploading my GEDCOM file. After all, the intent of WikiTree is to have only one collaborative tree for a family, not multiple ones. Admittedly, it took me about an hour to add a few facts about Elijah's family and the sources for the facts.  Entering information isn't as effortless as using the templates that I am accustomed to with Family Tree Maker, but it wasn't as difficult as writing a bunch of HTML code. Because the manager for the WikiTree (on which Elijah's family was a branch) had made me a trusted contributor, I was able to add several facts to the tree as well as to add Elijah's parents and grandparents to the tree. It was an interesting experience to share some of my research through contributing to someone else's WikiTree .

Now I'm ready to "head back to Norway".  Following up on that e-mail was like a breath of fresh air.  It provided me with an opportunity to see what WikiTree has become.  It provided me a reason to share research with others.  And, it has provided me with another place to look when I am researching an individual.  If you haven't used WikiTree before, I urge you to take a look and see if its collaborative research can help you.

P.S. If you are one of my former students, as with Wikipedia, the information on WikiTree is only as good was where the information was originally found. The format of WikiTree makes it easy to see the sources each contributor used.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Fearless Females*: A Six-Word Tribute

My Aunt Mary, pictured below, was an important influence in my life, and the person after whom I was named.  Yesterday would have been her birthday.  I want to honor and remember this Fearless Female with a six-word tribute.

Mary Louise Perkinson, ca 1935
personal collection

Mary Louise Perkinson was truly a

             Gracious          Warm          Loving          Educated          Southern Lady

It would be wonderful if everyone had at least one such mentor or teacher in his or her life.

* Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist blog has presented Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women's History Month.  Her prompts can be found here.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over : Who Lived Where, The 1838 Norwegian Matrikul or Land Register

After spending a number of weeks plowing and plodding through the digitized parish registers for Lesja, Oppland, Norway found on the Digital Archives of Norway, I finally got brave enough to peruse some other records found in the Archives.  I decided to look at the digitized records for the 1838 Land Register.  This register ended up providing me with new information about some of my ancestors and relatives.

1838 Land Register for Lesja Parish, Oppland, Norway; source: Digital Archives of Norway

As soon as I started to look at the pages, it was clear that my first order of business was to translate the various column headings so it was easier to see what information was actually available here.  Using both Google Translate and my Germanic Alphabet Chart, I was able to come up with a loose translation for the column headings.  Basically the columns are

  1. Farm Number
  2. Name of Farm
  3. Name of Farm Section or Division
  4. Occupant of Section
  5. Amount of land registered
  6. Tax or Debt Information

My previous look at parish records and the 1801, 1865, and 1875 Norway census records provided clues as to whom might be residing on a specific farm in 1838.  It was helpful to read John Follesdal's article on background information about Norwegian farms for a better understanding of how important the Land Register of 1838 was to the country as a whole and to the individual farmers.  Another aid in understanding the register was the Norway Glossary on which defined a number of terms related to property ownership and farming.

Pulling things together, I was able to find the following information from 1838 concerning some of my ancestors and relatives.

My 2GreatGrandfather Petter Andersen resided on farm 36 on the section recorded as Myren North.  At the time of the 1838 registry, the amount of his farm land had apparently not yet been recorded but the tax on it was listed as 2 ort and 13 skillings.  Below Petter's name is another Andersen, Isak Andersen, registered as living on the Myren South section.  Interestingly, although it might seem logical that two brothers would divide a section of a large farm, I have not yet come across any relative named Isak / Isaac Andersen in my research, so Isak Andersen is a question mark for me at this time.

Further down the list on farm 49, the Mosenden Farm, was information about my 3GreatGrandfather Joen Olsen.  Joen and his family lived on the Mosenden North section.  His property had already been registered as being 7 units in area and having a tax of 3 ort and 13 skillings,  So far I haven't been able to determine the value of skylddalers, orts, and skillings in today's US currency, but I was able to find the picture below.

Norwegian Skilling, source: Wikipedia Commons

I also found another 2GGrandfather, Syver Hansen, recorded as the farmer for the south portion of the Bellen / Belden / Belle farm.  According to a family history, this farm had passed to Syver from his father Hans Syversen at the time of Syver's marriage in 1830. Quite a wedding present, and one I would like to be able to document.

A 4th Great Uncle, Hans Jorgensen, was recorded as the primary tenant of the Little Bjøkne section of Bjøkne farm.  Also living on Bjøkne farm on the Upper Bjøkne section was another 4th Great Uncle, Hans Bjørnersen.  Again, descendants of these two continued to live on these farm sections through the 1875 census.

The Overlien South section of the Overlien farm was home for yet another 4th Great Uncle, Syver Syversen.  His farm was taxed at a rate of 1 skylddaler, 2 ort, and 14 skilling.

I felt like doing the Genealogist's Happy Dance as I "read" over the property register.  Without the focused research of the past two months, I would not have recognized names of ancestors, relatives, farm names and sections.  And I would not have stayed so focused without the encouragement of Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over.

Now if I plot the various farm locations on Google Map, I can see where people lived and perhaps better understand some of the relationships between the two Norwegian branches of my family tree.  Maybe I should take a look at the Real Estate Registers available on the Archives site to learn more about those living on the farms into the early 20th century.  And someday, I need to get my hands on a copy (or photocopy) of the Bydgebok for Lesja, a book tracing the history and land ownership in the Lesja Parish which was home to virtually all of my Norwegian relatives.  I might then do more of the Cluster Research that is a part of Genealogy Do-Over Week 9.  There is always something new just around the bend.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Fearless Females*: Photos of Kari Syversdatter

It takes a special kind of woman to leave her native land and family, come alone to the United States, and make a home in a new country, probably never seeing her family in Norway ever again.  My GreatGrandmother Kari Syversdatter, I'm such, was one such fearless woman.  Today I want to share a few pictures of Kari from my personal collection of photos.

Kari Syversdatter Myren, ca early 1890s

I've written several times in the past about Kari.  In one post, I explored information about Kari's name and the variations in both her given name and surname.  A later post about Kari related my continuing efforts to learn about Kari's immigration to the United States.  

Kari Syversdatter Myren, ca late 1890s

And this is my favorite photo of Kari.  My mother at about age 12 came sneaking up behind her grandmother to give her a hug, just as someone was getting ready to take the picture.  I love the playfulness I see in my preteen mother contrasting with the ever serious face of GreatGrandmother Kari.

Kari Syversdatter Myren and her granddaughter, ca mid-1920s

* Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist blog has presented Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women's History Month.  Her prompts can be found here.