Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I love Norwegian records

My wife has about 25% Norwegian ancestry, and I had a FUN time finding them in the online records plus the parish records and bygdebok (farm book) records I obtained on microfilm from the FHC. Then we went to Norway and visited Voss, one of the two "home towns," back in 1999, which I reported on here.

In my latest research effort for my friend Jay, his ancestry includes significant Norwegian ancestry - 5 of the 8 great-grandparents. He had data from a cousin for one of the five, but not for the other four. Three of the four were fairly easy - they stayed in one place and were found in the LDS IGI for Norway or in the LDS Vital Records Index for Norway, both online at, in Sogn og Fjordane fylke (county) just north of the Sognfjord. I took several families back into the late 1700's based on these records and educated guesses.

The fifth great-grandparent was a problem - he was Edward Elling Simes, born 29 Jan 1857 and died 19 Jul 1942 in MN. His death certificate, reviewed by DI who posted on my blog several days ago, revealed that Edward's parents names were Eric and Christine. I guessed that Edward's name was either Edward Eriksen or Elling Eriksen, using the patronymic name form that would still have been used in 1857 in Norway. However, I couldn't use the parents feature on the LDS site since I didn't know father Erik's last name.

I got no matches when I input Edward Eriksen and birth year 1857 and reviewed the entries for the parents given names. With Elling Eriksen, I found a match - an Erik Eriksen and Kristi Ellinsdtr as parents for an Elling Eriksen born 29 Jan 1857 - a perfect match. The data is from the Granvin parish in Hordaland. The parents married in Ulvik parish in 1837, and had at least 8 children born between 1841 and 1863 in Granvin. I couldn't find an obvious set of parents for either Erik Eriksen or Kristi Ellingsdtr in Ulvik or Granvin, so that will have to wait for a reading of the parish records and the census records.

Interestingly, there is a Seim farm near Granvin in Hordaland. In many cases, the immigrants to America took a farm name that they or their relatives lived on - in this case, Edward/Elling probably took Simes as a surname after he emigrated in 1875 as a young man.

It's amazing what you can find online. For the other Norwegian great-grandparents, I've taken the line back 7 generations from Jay, but I can take his 3 American lines only 5 generations back due to the dearth of 1800 to 1850 records. I'll leave the rest for him to do!

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