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.


  1. Mary,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a wonderful weekend!