Last week a fourth cousin of mine, Anne Gunn Stenstrøm brought something to my attention that I had never before noticed. "Did you ever notice that your great x5 grandfather Peder Rasmussen Garnes, your great x4 grandmother Kjersti Pedersdatter Garnes and two of her brothers all died the same day, July 30, 1806?" I had not. "Did you know the story of how they died?" I did not.
The GARNESMORDET or GARNES MURDER is an event that I am sure most every citizen of Verdal knows or has heard about. I began to do some internet sleuthing and found articles written about the event. Some parts of the story are factual, some have now become colorful Verdal folklore, where even a play has been written about it. I had the good fortune in contacting the author of some of the articles, Kjetil Dillan**, and another gentleman, Ole Morten Larssen*. They both in photos, stories and verse are working to maintain the history and culture of this most beautiful part of Norway; Verdal.
Between truth and folklore and my almost non-existant knowledge of the Norwegian language I hope that with the assistance of Anne Gunn, Kjetil, Ole Morten and of course "Google Translate" I have presented a fairly good English version of the horrific and brutal events of the night of July 30, 1806.
Peder Rasmussen Garnes was the head of a respected and properous farm, Garnes. He felt his daughter Kjersti was worthy of a good man of higher stature than Ole Larsen Skavhaug. Ole, whose family was poor, was well known around the parts as a tall, handsome, strong and fierce young man. It was said that he killed a bear while only 16 and now worked as a skiing soldier. Peder felt him to be too rough and unworthy of his daughter Kjersti. Kjersti, it would seem did not agree. On May 4, 1806 she bore a daughter named Anne. The baby was classified illegitimate but when baptised on May 18 her father was named as skier Ole Larsen Skavhaug.
|18 May 1806 parish baptismal record of Anne Olsdtr. Skavhaug|
A few of the locals put the suspicion on Kjersti's love, Ole Larsen Skavhaug. Ole was known as a rough and tough young man and the marital dispute between he and Peder Rasmussen was common knowledge. It was soon obvious that the perpetrators of this horrendous crime were two known Swedes who were seen in the immediate area the day before the murders. Ole Bergmann, a 39 year old tailor and sometimes silversmith often did business in Norway where the pay was good and their work was needed. He would stay in the homes of those he worked for and it was said he used that opportunity to see what he could steal upon leaving. He was a known thief in both Sweden and Norway and witnesses heard him threaten those he had stole from with death. The year of 1805 he had hooked up with a younger man, 24 years old, Niels Toldsteen. Niels, who had great promise in his youth originally studied for the priesthood but found liquor, women and easy money more to his liking.
Ole Skavhaug, good to his word, pursued the murderers well into Sweden barely stopping for rest or nourishment until, with the help of Swedish authorities, they were captured and brought to Trondheim to stand trial. They were found in possession of articles from Garnes. Under torture on the wheel they confessed to their crimes in detail. 1807, May 20th, 8:00am Niels Toldsteen and Ole Bergmann were executed, beheaded on the scaffold I believe, with the full approval of the Danish/Norwegian King Christian. Below is the declaration of their execution.
My greatest thanks to Anne Gunn Stenstrøm, Ole Morten Larsen and Kjetil Dillan,