Nils and Gunhild Marie Gundersen

On a visit to Norway in 1958 my grandfather made a movie of the family. This is a very tiny clip that my grandfather Paul took of his in-laws. These are the parents of my maternal grandmother Dagmar Gundersen Sevald, Nils and Gunhild Marie Gundersen.  I never met them and I have to admit I am more than a bit jealous of all their other great grandchildren who lived close-by and had the pleasure of knowing them. All the more reason I treasure this clip.

Nils Gundersen Øvald 
b. 13 Sep 1875 Eidanger, Telemark, Norway
d. 2 Feb 1961 Skien, Telemark, Norway

Gunhild Marie Olsdatter
b. 14 Dec 1875 Eidanger, Telemark, Norway
d. 9 Feb 1959 Skien, Telemark, Norway 


Now they got it! 50/50 Norwegian and Swedish!

This DNA stuff just gets better and better. I am still amazed that a bit of spit in a tube can be analyzed but as the science gets better and better and the testing groups and methods become more precise? Wow! I just received upgraded results from They can stop now!

My mother was Norwegian and my father was Swedish. I knew it all along but here I am, officially 50% Norwegian and 50% Swedish. Not many can claim a heritage quite that simplistic. My ancestors were simple folk, farmers mostly, who were born, lived, married, had children and died within the same community. When Grandpa said "Hey I got a good idea, let's pack our trunk and go to Amerika", that changed everything for our family line. Only one of my beloved grandchildren has done DNA testing. Her results show a pie chart of many colors representing almost every area of the world and I suspect the others, if they tested, would show the same. And that is cool too. DNA testing is even pointing to the precise areas of the country where my grandparents were born! Pretty cool and amazing but they can stop now. They got it accurate enough.
I don't really need to know what street they lived on.


A peek at great great grandfather Gunder Andreas

A second cousin of mine in Norway recently sent me this photo that he had recently acquired from another cousin in Norway. It features his grandmother, Nilia Gundersen, her husband, children and grandchildren with her father, Gunder Andreas Nilsen Øvald . Gunder Andreas is my great great grandfather, my maternal grandmothers paternal grandfather.

 Looking at the documentation of his life, I believe his life was a difficult one as were many of those living and trying to raise a family in the late 19th century Norway. As the oldest son he inherited the right to farm the family farm Øvald, which at this point was actually the property of the Norwegian church, which was the case with most farms in Southern Norway. A younger brother, without much future in sight, headed off to America, to find his "fortune" there. Gunder Andreas lost two of his children in their childhood, a tragedy that we fortunately seldom encounter now thanks to the advent of childhood immunizations. His wife, Marthe Marie, died from childbirth infection. Three of his children followed their uncle and headed off to America where they soon found mates and new lives as Americans. Another three grandchildren did the same. There are a few other siblings, children and grandchildren that I have not yet been able to account for. My suspicion is that I will one day also find them living American lives. Gunder Andreas had to leave the family farm when the church sold the now lucrative property and Gunder Andreas died a poor man.

It all sounds so sad to me but I hope Gunder Andreas did not feel or view his life in a negative way. He lived long (87 years) and still had much of his family around him. Perhaps, and I do hope, he felt his life to be blessed.

Not the clearest of pictures but a welcome find non-the-less. The white-bearded man in the rear of the cart, surrounded by family is my X2 great grandfather;

my great great grandfather
Gunder Andreas Nilsen Øvald
b. 11 Apr 1843 Eidanger, Telemark, Norway
d. 24 Aug 1930 Eidanger, Telemark, Norway


The University of Oslo's Museum of Cultural History

Part of the University of Oslo's Museum of Cultural History:
The VIKING SHIP MUSEUM in Oslo, Norway. 

click  HERE  to view (in English)

I have been there and it is quite impressive. 

the proud 25th or so great granddaughter of a Viking
(well, surely my ancestors couldn't ALL have been farmers or sailors),

Ellis Island, revisited

My Norwegian grandparents, Paul and Dagmar Sevaldsen, came to the United States through Ellis Island. Paul arrived first on the "Bergensfjord", of the Scandinavian lines, in 1923. He was ferried from the ship to Ellis Island itself where he joined the many other hopeful immigrants to be questioned and inspected before entry. Perhaps knowing and experiencing what he did and not wanting his young wife to endure the same, he worked extra hard to send his wife and young daughter cabin tickets. Those in cabins were considered "cleaner, richer and less likely to be a health risk or financial burden to the country" and were cursively inspected on board the boat and disembarked directly from the boat to New York harbor. Grandmother was very proud of that!

Ellis Island is a federally owned island in New York Harbor, within the states of New York and New Jersey.  The first Ellis Island Immigrant Station opened on January 1, 1892,  The first arrival was Annie Moore, a 15-year-old girl from County Cork, Ireland, who’d come to the U.S. with her two brothers to join their parents in New York City. As the nation's busiest immigrant inspection station from 1892 to 1954, it processed approximately 12 million immigrants to the United States through the Port of New York and New Jersey. The last immigrant came through Ellis Island in 1954 and he was Arne Peterssen, a 48-year-old merchant seaman from Narvik, Norway. A year after Peterssen was processed, the Feds declared Ellis Island as surplus property and all but abandoned it. The historic buildings, already in disrepair, kept deteriorating until a decade later, when President Lyndon B. Johnson incorporated the island into the Statue of Liberty National Monument.

Today, the island is part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, a U.S. national monument that contains a museum  The north side of the island hosts a museum of immigration, accessible only by ferry. The south side of the island, including the Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital, is abandoned but accessible to the public through guided tours. Above is a news article from my grandmother's home town in Norway. It details a visit made to the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island that was made by two of my grandmother's Norwegian nieces, who told the personal story of my grandparents arrival at Ellis Island.

Another blogger has written a well documented and interesting post, complete with pictures about Immigration to the United States that is well worth the read.  Check it out? 
Thank you, Maggie Land Blanck, 
I could not have done better! 


Happy Birthday Grandpa Sevald!

Today I remember my maternal grandfather, Paul Skoglund Sevald. He was born 125 years ago today. He died when I was 19 but I remember him well and fondly.  When I remember him, I remember him as he was when I was a small child. He was always cheerful, happy and laughing. A fun person to be around, joking with my grandmother, dancing up our stairs and singing. Hugging and loving us. His last years were difficult as he suffered, truly suffered from Parkinson's disease. Unfortunately, due to his illness I don't think my younger siblings would remember how grandpa was in his healthy happy days. But I do, and let me tell you. Those days were great.

Happy Birthday Grandpa!

Grandpa and his first grandchild........Me!