July 9, 2016

The search for Uncle Lauritz ends - Louis Gunderson

Last November I blogged about my great great uncle Lauritz Severin Gundersen.
In 1900 he was counted in the Norwegian national census living on the family farm Øvald in Eidanger, Telemark, Norway. The farm that the family had worked since the mid 1600's. He was living with my grandmother Dagmar, my great grandparents Nils Gundersen and Gunhild Olsdatter and my great great grandfather Gunder Andreas Nilson. He dissappeared from Norway and the family farm. Where was he I wondered?  I found him later living in the Chicago area, his name "Americanized" to Louis Gunderson, married and with a slew of children. Chicago! the same area in which I now and have for the last 64 years lived. He must have some descendants in the area. "Where are you my cousins?" I had asked.

Wow. Louis came to this country 115 years ago and this past week I finally had the opportunity to meet those cousins for the first time. A third cousin who had contacted me some months ago arranged for me to meet the matriarch of the family, Louis' youngest daughter Adeline.
Adeline is 93 years old and has a great memory. She kindly allowed me to take her picture to post on this blog.

Adeline, I and additional family members chatted in her home for some time. I told her what I knew of the history of Louis' family and their farm Øvald in Norway. How my grandmother Dagmar, her first cousin, had left Norway with my grandfather, to also settle in Chicago. Showing her copies of the documentation I had collected about Lauritz, we marveled at the long and difficult journey he undertook as a young man to find a better life in the United States. I met with her hoping get additional documentation about my ancestry. She gave me something better. I got to know a bit about the man himself, my great great uncle;

Lauritz Severin Gundersen was known as Louis Gunderson in Chicago. 

Adeline described him as "good looking even with his big ears". He was a thin quiet fellow who never really talked much about life in Norway but in his later years did take a trip back to the village of his birth to visit family. He was a devoted husband for 58 years and a kind and loving father of 10 children and numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren. Three of those children sadly he would see die too young. He never put much stock in religion but was an upright honest man you could count on. He was a strong and skilled carpenter who with his son in law built the home that his daughter Adeline still lives in today. His grandson remembers him fondly up on the roof swinging his hammer well into his 70's. A good man.

So I truly did find Lauritz and along the way found some really good people I am pleased and proud to say are my cousins.

**click on photos to enlarge for easier viewing**