Due to DNA testing, in a round about way, we have probably solved the brick wall of our ancestor Lars Monsen who was born in the Bergen area and lived in Kristiansand, Norway. His great-grandson Lauritz (later Lawrence Josiah Munson), my grandfather, came to Brooklyn, NY, with his family when he was six. That story is posted on this page about the Monsens at my family history site.
Lars Monsen had been our brick wall for a long time since it is a common name in the Bergen area although not, we thought, in southern Norway. Well it turns out there really were two men named Lars Monsen in Kristiansand at that time. One was Lars Monsen Suldahl (thus from Suldahl) and ours was Lars Monsen or Mognsen Aastvedt from Eidsvaag (just north of Bergen)
Here is the story. Dad’s Y DNA matched almost 6000 people at 12 markers on the family tree DNA site. So I used the Ysearch site to look for only Bergen area matches. I contacted those two people and heard back from one. Next we both upgraded to 37 markers to see if we still matched. In the meantime our match, Sigmund, posted some queries in the best Norwegian forums for Bergen and Kristiansand areas and the local historian/genealogy experts weighed in and found a likely candidate for our Lars. Sigmund now found us a male line descendant from Lar’s grandad and sent him a Y DNA test kit! [UPDATE: they matched, see http://blog.kittycooper.com/2013/05/its-a-match-lars-monsens-ancestors-are-found/ }
Sadly at 37 markers on the Y chromosome there is no longer a match with Sigmund. We are about 6 steps away so are still distantly related but probably not in genealogical known times.
Back to the Lars Monsen story. Our cousin the genealogist, Dick Larkin, had never found his marriage to our ancestress Anna Severine but did find a marriage to Ingeborg Davidsdatter in 1804 with a bunch of children from 1805-1814. Then our ancestor Andreas Larsen was born to a different mother, Anna Severine, in 1815, followed by a few more children. Anna Severine died young in 1822 followed by two of her children (was there a reason?) then Lars remarried but no more children. Finally there seemed to be two entries for his death in 1835 in Kristiansand, one where he was called Suldahl.
Another DNA cousin sent me his pedigree and pointed out this record for a Lars Mognsen marrying Anna Sorine Aanensdtr – ” I found their marriage record in Farsund, Vest-Agder: http://www.arkivverket.no/URN:kb_read?idx_kildeid=869&idx_id=869&uid=ny&idx_side=-151 1 Aug 1811, Bachelor Lars Mognsen of Bergen and Maiden Ane Sørine Aanonsdatter Huseby, with witnesses Aanon Huseby and Knud Huseby.” I showed this to Dick but we knew Lars was still having children with Ingeborg so how could it be?
Meanwhile the experts in the forums tell me that Mognsen and Monsen are the same name. What was written down before the late 1800s was whatever the clerk heard as most ordinary folk were not very literate. So many small inaccuracies can creep in. Could there really be two Lars Monsens in Kristiansand? Several of the Lars Monsen entries with Ingeborg mention Suldahl (near Stavanger) while one of the Lars Monsen/Mognsen entires mentions Eidsvaag (near Bergen) .
Now Sigmund made some postings in Norwegian in the Bergen forums of http://forum.arkivverket.no looking for our Lars in the Bergen area
Here is the first group of posts where the experts convinced me that there were two Lars Monsens:
We also now find an older brother for our Andreas named Mikkel or Michael (since his paternal grandfather was Mons they would have called him either Mons or used a name starting with M more common in their area). “Norway, Baptisms, 1634-1927,” index, FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/N4MY-BVG : accessed 06 Mar 2013), Lars Mognsen in entry for Michael Larsen, 07 May 1812. Again while the other Lars was having children with Ingeborg. This is even more convincing.
Sigmund’s second post was to the Bergen area forum. Lars’ marriage record to Able Elizabeth in Kristiansand after Anna Serene died showed his birthplace as being from Eidsvåg outside Bergen and the experts went to work. Here is the Norwegian forum posting:
because his marriage after the one to Serene when he married for the second time shows him as being from Eidsvåg outside Bergen ,
they found him in Eidsvarg
“Lars” baptized June 27 1784 with father “Mons Aastveitsvogen?” in “Hammers” lh v. row top
“Lars” 17 years with parents and brother on “Aastvet” FT 1801 “Hammer”
Bygdeboken Åsane V, s. 102, Åstveitvågen Mons Olsen Åstveit (br.A) 1737-1802g.
Hey. Lars lived with his parents in 1801, other info’s not about him. Siblings: Anna 1765-1766 Ole 1767-1845 (took over the farm after his parents) Nikolai 1770-1779 Knut 1773-1793 Anna 1776-1782 Anders 1779 – g.1804 m Anna Nilsdtr. lived Bergen Nikolai 1781 – 1856 vs. 1803 m Danielle Johannesdtr. Location Åstvedt
and finally here is what our distant Norwegian cousin Sigmund had to say about Lars:
“By the way, this Lars must have been quite a daring guy. When he married, we were in the midst of the Napoleon war in Europe.
Denmark-Norway, which was a united country those days, took party with the French and Napoleon after the British “flotilla-robbery” in Copenhagen in 1807, and they lost (1812-13).
1807 the Brits forced their way into the harbor in Copenhagen, set the city in fire and captured most of the warships that Denmark-Norway had. After Denmark-Norway joined the war, the Brits put a blockade on the coast line. Denmark was virtually bankrupt after this war, and was forced to give away Norway to Sweden. The Norwegian refused to be handled over to the Swedes as a parcel and claimed independence on 17th of May 1814.
But before that, and especially in 1811, when Lars was married in Farsund people were starving in Norway and smuggling grain to the country was a fearful business. I guess that was what your forefather were up to in 1811, when he was a deckhand on board a ship with the risk of getting captured and sentence to imprisonment in England. The price of grain rise so high that you had riots in Bergen. There the Germans (the Hansa confederation) still had a grip on the trade in Bergen, and wealthy people, were rounded up and ordinary people tried to force them to give away grain and and lower the prices. This happens in the streets of Bergen…
In Eidsvaag it was a mill, so it might be here Lars learned about sealife?
His story is could very easily ended up like that of Terje Vigen, in the epic poem written by our great author, Henrik Ibsen?.
UPDATE: The follow up article about whether the descendant was a match is at this URL – http://blog.kittycooper.com/2013/05/its-a-match-lars-monsens-ancestors-are-found/