Great Grand Aunt Mathilda Gundersen 1873-1931 - I had the information all the time!

After finding my great grand aunt "Bina" last week I followed up with a search for her sister Mathilde Amalie. I also had no more than a birth record on her. Once again, why not Chicago? If her brother Laurits, sister Jacobine, niece Dagmar and niece Jenny had all left Telemark for Chicago then why not  Mathilde? I had such good luck with the Lutheran church records, I started there.  I figured if she left Norway unmarried she most likely would find a boyfriend within a few years and then would most likely marry in the church. Bingo! How easy was that? Mathilde Amalie married Jon Wennberg, also a Norwegian immigrant, in the Bethania Lutheran church of Chicago December 19, 1896. The name Wennberg  did not ring any bells for me the US census records Mathilda and Jon lived and raised their family at 5028 Sawyer Avenue. Didn't my grandparents live there at some time? I checked and no they did not. Who lived there or why did that address seem familiar?

One of the first family history records I found, before I started a family tree or caught the genealogy "bug" was a manifest of the ship Bergensfjord. On the Ellis Island website I saw for the first time the documentation of my grandfather Paul coming to America. I remember how excited I was as I saw his name among the many poor third class passengers hoping for a better life in the U.S. My grandmother had told me, before she died that my grandfather stayed briefly with an aunt in America. "She was not nice, mean and stingy that woman was and we got out as quickly as we could". I assumed it was his aunt? Wrong!

from the manifest of the NAL "Bergensfjord" , leaving from Kristiania, Norway and arriving at the port of New York August 1, 1923, page 35, line #7, steerage passenger Paul Sevaldsen:

colume #19 - whether going to join a relative or friend, and if so, what relative or friend, his complete name and address

That's no "friend" Grandpa, that is your wife's  "mean and stingy" Aunt Mathilda! I had her name and address for over twenty years and never put it all together. Uff Da!

my great grand Aunt
Mathilde  Amalie Gundersen Wennberg
b. 22 Feb 1873 Eidanger, Telemark, Norway
d. 22 Jan 1931 Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA


Great Grand Aunt Jacobine "Bina" Gundersen 1869-1935 - Found!

My great grandfather Nils came from a fairly large family. He had an older sister who I could never find. Jacobine Gundersdatter was born 11 Feb 1869 in Eidanger, Norway. I easily found her birth record but that was it. She was not with the family in the 1891 nor the 1900 Norwegian census. Nor could I find any proof of her marriage or death.

At a loss with Norwegian records, I thought I would try the FAN method. Looking up family, acquaintances or friends. I thought since her two nieces (0ne of them being my grandmother) and her brother had all gone to Chicago perhaps she had also emigrated to the US and why not Chicago? I would start there. Jacobine seemed an unusual enough name and I tried searching her with her patronymic Gundersdatter/sen, her fathers patronymic Nielsen and the family farm name Øvald without luck. I  had found my uncle's baptismal record in the archives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Norwegian Lutheran Churches were one of the synods that combined to form the modern day ELCA. There she was! Jacobine Gundersen married Nicholai Nelson November 12,1893 in the Bethania Lutheran church of Chicago. Once I knew her husbands name it was easy peasy to find her in the US census' living in Chicago. She must not have cared for the name Jacobine (don't think I blame her) because shortly after arriving in the US she went by the name Bina, which is even on her official Cook County death record.
Jacobine Gundersdatter = Bina Nelson

Lesson learned to not only use the popular FAN method but add Faith also as a way to search for those elusive ancestors.

married November 12, 1893 in Bethania Lutheran Church, Chicago, Illinois
Nicholai Nelson, 34 and Jacobine Gunderson, 24

my great grand Aunt
Jacobine "Bina" Gundersen Nelson
b. 11 February 1869 Eidanger, Telemark, Norway
d. 18 June 1935 Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA


A New Year and New Cousins! The Gundersen Family Genealogy Group on Facebook

2017 ended on a great note.

I never cared a lot for Facebook. Who cares where a remote acquaintance is at this very moment or what they had for dinner or who they voted for. I finally hopped on board when I found out I could do so incognito and just sign up for groups that were helpful to me in my family history pursuits. They were very helpful and that was reason enough to join Facebook.

One day I was found out! Good thing too. A second cousin in Norway sent a friend request. How could I refuse? Well, this cousin had joined me to a Facebook genealogy page for the descendants of my Norwegian great grandparents. Now I was out there I guess and you know what? Within 48 hours I had oodles of more cousins! Cousins who all were thrilled to share old family photos and memories. This was particularly precious to me.  I was 7 when my great grandmother died and 10 when my great grandfather passed yet I had never met them. Of the seven children of my great grandparents only my grandmother had emigrated to the US. All these cousins had memories and photos of the great grandparents I had never met. Plus much more.

How great was that? Should anyone ask me now what I think about using Facebook for Genealogy? 

Some helpful sites


Sharing Memories Week #51 - A Happy Family

52 Weeks of Sharing Memories
Lorine McGinnis Schulze of "Olive Tree Genealogy" blogspot in 2014 
suggested a 52 week challenge of writing down our memories.  
Well, I am in for 2017! The first Monday of each week of this year 
I am committed to using one of her 
to recall and write up a memory of one of my ancestors or myself

I read somewhere that only those from happy families want to look into their family history/genealogy. I don't know if that is true or not but in the twenty years I have been involved in investigating my own family history I am proud of what I have found. 

A family member in Norway recently made this photo available to me. My grandparents Paul and Dagmar Sevald. They are the first generation of my family in the U.S.  My family history journey began with them. Hard working, salt of the earth, joy filled people who loved God and their family.  As my research branched out I found more and more of the same. Many people go into family history convinced of and to prove that they are descended from or related to someone famous or infamous, exciting, daring, brilliant, accomplished etc. etc. etc. I found no such surprises.  I have traced my family in all lines back many generations and have found no one considered extraordinary. No one  "rich"; my ancestors were generally poor tenant farmers, sailors and tradesmen. No one smart; only some in my own generation ever finished college, my ancestors mainly were literate but had a very basic education. No one famous or infamous; I have not yet found any criminals. Am I disappointed? Heck, no. I discovered my family lived through poverty, illness, war, tragedy and still they went on. Ever loyal to their faith and family. Yes, I come from a happy family. And THAT IS extraordinary.

Next week is week #52 and the last in this year of sharing memories. Monday is Christmas Day and I will be busy making new family memories. 

until next year!