We have found our ancestor Lars Monsen!

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:

Warning for some reason google translates Kristiansand as London! So I changed it back below.
here are some of the interesting postings as translated by google

because his marriage after the one to Serene when he married for the second time shows him as being from Eidsvåg outside Bergen ,
marriage record

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”

Lars M. Aastvet” confirmed years 1802, lh h row nr.14  
Hello, Have not noticed this debate until now. It can not be much doubt that Lars Monsen (b. ca. 1783) who lived in Kristiansand were from Hamre parish outside Bergen . Matrikkelgården Eidsvåg borders both against Sandviken in Bergen (south ) and against Åstveit (north). Both farms were the 1700 and 1800’s run with paktere and crofters. The Cardigans were also early mill dating back to the 1500s. There were several people visited these farms for short periods. problem with the man in Kristiansand is that he says that his father was called Mons Larsen at wedding number two. In my material there is no Mons Larsen around Eidsvåg the father of one Lars ca. 1783. As mentioned earlier in this debate, there is a good candidate here: http://digitalarkive…&merk=9657 # upper Parents were Mons Olsen Åstveit b 1737 d 1802 married 1763 to Synneve Knutsdtr. Håheim b. 1741 in Jølster D. 1801. They had eight children. Lars was the youngest. Last track I find for him Åsane’s graduation in 1802. Seeing that Lars Monsen in Kristiansand had several children including Severine (named after Synneve?) and Mikkel. Brother Mons Olsen Åstveit (1737-1802) was Mikkel Olsen (1740-1807). Though father’s name does not match, it happens that there are errors in the records.Thus, the probability is high that Lars Monsen in Kristiansand is identical to Lars Monsen Åstveit born 1784. Sincerely. Bratland Kenneth former writer of local history for Åsane 

Bygdeboken Åsane V, s. 102, Åstveitvågen Mons Olsen Åstveit (br.A) 1737-1802g.
1763 Synneve Knutsdtr. Håheim (Jølster) ca. From 1741 to 1801. 8 children from this marriage, blah. Lars in 1784, mentioned 1801. replacement for Synneve in 1801. 

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/

11 thoughts on “We have found our ancestor Lars Monsen!

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  1. Kitty, you have some great resources here and I am impressed with your family website and your blog. I am the brother-in-law of one of your distant cousins in Pittsburgh, PA that I believe, found you/you found him, through 23andme. He sent me the link for your website and I thought it might be fun to research a bit into his family connections. I am a bit of a genealogy bug and have been working on my family connections through ancestry.com, but I haven’t done anything with DNA and would be interested to learn more about this type of genealogical research. Any links and/or resources to help expand my knowledge would be great.

    Happy hunting!

  2. Thanks Mark, if you try the resources listed in my right hand column the one called DNA for newbies is pretty informative. Then there are mailing lists which are interesting like DNA for Newbies on the ISOGG site.

    As I am a web developer my own sites are supposed to look nice!! Although with this one I took the shortcut of using a free template that I liked. I have been reorganizing my family history site recently by families and individuals so hopefully it has gotten easier for cousins to find their own relatives.

  3. Here is an update on the Lars Monsen story:

    We tested my Dad’s probable 3rd cousin once removed on the paternal line at 12 STR markers. He is known to be descended from Dad’s newly found probable ggg-grandfather, Ole Monsen Titland (1702-1764) Nordre Titland Lindås, Hordaland, Norway. Our possible cousin is a one step off match at 12 STRs, he has an 11 and Dad has a 12 at DYS439, so I have ordered an upgrade to 37 markers. Like Dad he is a WAMH R1b – an R-M269

    This is exciting!

  4. and for those who are interested here is a chart of Y STR relatedness.
    and here is a further explanation which lists our STR as a likely spot for a mismatch
    it says:
    “An 11/12 match between two men who share a common surname (or variant) means they may share a common male ancestor within the genealogical time frame. To ensure that the match is authentic, you should utilize additional markers.

    For most closely related or same surnamed individuals, the mismatch markers are likely to be DYS439, DYS385, DYS389i or DYS389ii.”

  5. Kitty, I was steered here by a post to DNA-newbie.

    If you connected with your male lineage by looking for people who match the Western Atlantic modal haplotype of R1b, with 6000 matches at Family Tree DNA at 12 markers, you hit the jackpot for looking for a needle in a haystack and happening to find it.

    Looking for the two people from your home village in Norway who happen to match the WAMH didn’t in itself establish much at all, unless you also happen to also share a rare surname, and if that were the case, you never needed to do DNA testing at all, just follow the paper trails.

    I can’t make you think these people might not be related to you at all, since you’re saying above they don’t match you at 37 markers. What I would do if I had a burning desire to know is Big Ys on both of you. That will clearly show if you are related too far back in time to match at 37 markers, which would be a match during medieval times.

  6. I forgot to mention that my brother matched some people with different surnames at 67 markers, and a number of people at 37 markers, and the Anglo Saxon Generic Modal haplotype with a gd of 5 at 37 markers. At 12 markers he has many thousands of matches.

    This was a pure accident. He and his matches that mean anything don’t share with the Anglo Saxon Generic Modal haplotype, descent from 4500 year old basal SNP DF29!

    Nowadays we test for DF29 before forming conclusions. Once the accidental matches were eliminated we could also clearly see distinctive markers at 67 markers that differentiate my brother’s line from his accidental matches.

    • Dear Dora,
      I am not sure I am following what you are trying to say. It certainly sounds like you did not read the full story above.
      What I got from my needle in a haystack approach was someone in Norway who was willing to help me. He was no longer a match to Dad at 37 markers but he tracked down a male line descendant from one of the more likely Lars Monsens, found with the help of others on a Norwegian forum. He spoke to this fellow on the phone and then sent him one of his kits which I paid him back for. This new person was a match – see http://blog.kittycooper.com/2013/05/its-a-match-lars-monsens-ancestors-are-found/ – which I will add above since it finishes the story.
      If you look at the URL above it was written in 2013 before I knew very much, so I was not afraid to pursue such a small lead. In fact, I think it is a sensible way to find an interested helper. Testing Y and hoping for a match does not often succeed. I would recommend the approach of getting descendants of possible candidates to test like I did.

      • Also when we originally upgraded Dad’s test to 37 markers he lost almost all his matches. He had only one 4 step match, origin Sweden, who never responded to our emails. So no need to eliminate anyone by testing SNPs!

  7. Hi Kitty,

    I have a question regarding the time between GD 1 and GD 2 on a Y DNA test at 111 markers. I’ve read a couple of scientific papers that have been quite confusing. The part I thought I understood is that each GD is equivalent to approximately 60 years. If that’s correct GD=1 is 60, or likely related within 2-3 generations and GD=2 would then be 120 years which increases the probable MRCA to within 4-6 generations. With this information I posed a question in a Genetic Genealogy group and the feedback was that the difference between GD of 1 or 2 was negligible and could span upwards of thousands of years.
    My situation is this: My Uncle has 6 matches at 67 markers with a GD=0, 5 of those have now tested at 111 markers, so now we have 1 with GD=1, 3 with DG=2 and 1 with GD=3. The way this appears to me is that the match with GD=1 is more closely related to the rest of us than we are to each other. Am I off base? Am I oversimplifying? A couple have completed the Y 700 test now and I have yet to begin to understand how to interpret how that changes the GD.

    • Dee –
      Mutations can happen at any time so that 60 years is just a rough estimate. At 67 markers, I know of a father and son, proven in the autosomal who have a GD of 2. I know of cousins sharing a paternal line ancestor in the 1600s with a GD of 0 and another with a GD of 3.
      So no you cannot take the inference that the 1 is more closely related. Look at the actual mutations. Some STRs may be known faster to mutate than others.see the next article in this series which discussed this
      The 700 test gets SNPs which are deeper ancestry and haplogroups defining. By testing that many the hope is to be able to see when different lines split from each other. It is only a little useful for lineage.

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