Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Here Comes the Syversen Family, part 2

Lesja Church, Oppland, Norway
photo by Henny Stokseth, Wikimedia Commons

I've been on the immigration trail of my Great Grandmother Kari Syversdatter Myren for the past several years, trying to see how she left the village of Lesja in Oppland, Norway and came to North Dakota.  Previously I had described some of my efforts in a post written in March, 2013. After my relative ease in finding how her brother Hans Syversen came from Norway to the US, I hoped to be more successful in learning about Kari. I would use the steps that had worked so successfully with Hans.

1. Use the Norwegian census records for 1865, 1875, and 1885 to establish the last census year in which the family or individual was recorded as living in Norway. (Digital Archives of Norway). Also, check US Federal census records to see when the family is recorded in the US.

Kari was listed as living with her parents, Syver Hansen and Marit Olsdatter, in both the 1865 and 1875 census of Norway but not in the 1885 census. The first census which records Kari as living in the US is the 1885 Dakota Territory Census.(1) In this 1885 census Kari, now married to Peter Peterson Myren, was listed as the mother of two children, ages 3 and 1, both of whom were listed as being born in the Dakota Territory. This sets Kari's migration bracket as being between 1875 and 1882.

2. Check local parish records to see if the family or person is listed as a "Removal", the column heading used for individuals notifying the church of their intent to move out of the area or to emigrate. (DAofN)

Several months ago I was looking for something else in the Lesja Parish records and stumbled upon the Migration Record for Kari.(2)

At the time I first found this record, I made a note in Family Tree Maker about the other person, Marie Hansdatter of Belden Farm, who was planning to leave Lesja the same time as Kari. I wondered who Marie was, a neighbor, friend, relative. As I started planning to write this post and was considering resources to mention, I had one of those "duh" moments. Marie Hansdatter, born in 1858, living on Belden Farm is in all likelihood the "missing daughter"t of Kari's brother Hans Syversen and also Kari's niece,  It now looked as if these two girls might be planning to travel together to America, leaving Norway on 25 April 1878. Surely two women traveling together should be easier to track than one person traveling alone.

The Digital Archives of Norway has digitized a number of records related to immigration. In their "Emigrants From Oslo 1867-1930", I found a record that might belong to Kari.(3) The database provided the following information about a Kari Hansen, a possible name for Kari since her father was Syver Hansen. Here is the information provided about Kari; my comments about the information are written in red. These are the reasons I say it might be for my Kari rather than being certain.
  • Names:  Kari Hansen possible name
  • Gender:  female
  • Age:  24  Kari's age in 1858 would have been 25
  • Residence:  Oier Oier is a parish located in an area close to Lesja, Oppland
  • Position:  a Girl term usually means a servant girl who isn't part of the family
  • Date of emigration:  23 June 1878
  • Port of departure:  Oslo
  • Destination:  White Hall Wisconsin Kari's older sister Guro had immigrated to American about 9-10 years earlier and resided near this town in the 1880 US Federal Census
  • [Ship] Line:  Hero This ship only took passengers from Oslo to Liverpool, after that the person had to travel to the east coast of England to board a ship to travel to America
  • Freight cost:  paid sometimes this indicated that the person emigrating held a prepaid ticket from Oslo to their final destination, in this case, Wisconsin
"Emigrants From Oslo" is a database, not a digitized record which I could browse for myself. No matter which search terms I used, I was never able to find a similar record for Kari's niece and possible traveling companion, Marie Hansdatter. Nor did I ever find listings for Hans Syversen's family as they had prepared to leave in July of 1878 as seen in a previous post.

3. Study US Federal Census records to see the year recorded for immigration, number of years in the US, or information on naturalization. (

In the 1900 US Federal Census, Kari Syversdatter Myren was reported as coming to the US in 1880 and being in the US for 20 years. According to the 1910 US Federal Census, Kari had immigrated to the United States in 1879. The 1920 US Census recorded Kari as coming to the US in 1878 and being naturalized in 1890, the same time as her husband Peter Petersen Myren. The census of 1930 also provided the same 1878 date for immigration. So, in a number of different census records, Kari is recorded as coming to the US between 1878 and 1880.

4. Search for the family or individual in immigration databases and ships' passengers lists.  Use sites such as Ancestry.comFamilySearch.orgLibrary and Archives of CanadaThe Ships List,  Castle Garden for immigration 1820-1892, Ellis Island, or Steve Morse's One-Step Search.

This step kept me busy recording "no record found" on my research spreadsheet. I searched for both Kari and her niece Marie Hansdatter without success. I used NorwayHeritage's databases to make a list of possible ships on which Kari might have sailed with a later April 1878 departure date. Some docked at New York, others in Philadelphia, or Quebec. Then over several days, I searched more than 25 ships' passenger lists accessed through and was not able to find either girl listed as a passenger. Not giving up, I tried searching a list of passenger lists for ships departing England in late July of 1878, the time listed in the Emigrants From Oslo database. Still no success.

For those ships docking at Quebec, I searched the immigration databases found on the Library and Archives of Canada website. Next I tried searching in the Castle Garden database. Again, no records using either website.

Kari Syversdatter's date and means of arrival in the United States continues to be a mystery. It is obvious that she left Norway. Obvious that she lived for over 40 years in North Dakota. There is just that gap between leaving Norway and residing in North Dakota that continues to be so elusive. When I compare my efforts concerning Kari with those on behalf of her brother Hans, it has seemed much easier to track a male through the immigration process.

But wait, there's more ...

(1) 1885 Dakota State Census, Traill County, [population schedule], Hillsboro Township, p. 5, dwelling 428, family 440, for Petter Petterson [and family]; North Dakota State University Archives, Fargo, [microfilm # unknown].
(2) Oppland (Lesja, Norway), Parish Register (Official) 8, 1854-1880, Migration Records 1878, p 587; Digital Archives of Norway.
(3) Emigrants From Oslo 1867-1930, "Kari Hansen"; accessed Digital Archives of Norway.

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