My mother arriving in America in 1935
My mother was born in Munich to a Jewish father and a Catholic mother so I know perfectly well why they moved to Boston in 1935. He was “retired” in the early 1930s, from his professorship at the University of Freiburg Faculty of Medicine for being jewish. However he still had an extensive private medical practice and would have stayed in Germany had my Oma not insisted that they leave. Thankfully my Opa was a prominent scientist and had many offers from different universities around the world. Happily for my existence, my Oma chose Boston over Ankara.
But why did my Norwegian ancestors come to this country? I recently started reading a book, Between Rocks and Hard Places (love that title!) by Ann Urness Gesme that answers some of those questions and describes life in Norway in the 1800s in much detail. So I wanted to share this find with all of you other Norwegian Americans and Norwegians. Many of you may have already read the wonderful article Peace, Potatoes and Pox which summarizes the reasons for the population explosion in Norway such that there were too many people on too little land, the main impetus behind emigration. He wrote that article after reading Norway to America A History of the Migration by Ingrid Semmingsen, a detailed and carefully researched book. [n.b. these book titles include my affiliate links]
My paternal grandfather was born in Kristiansand, Norway’s southernmost city, and came here when he was six years old with his family. He later married the daughter of Norwegian immigrants, one from near Drammen and the other from Etne, Hordaland. This gives me the pleasure of three different places in Norway to research for my family history.
I am fortunate to have the letters that grandfather wrote to my Dad during WWII which include a description of leaving Kristiansand in 1884: “… my grandfather brought us out in a row boat to the steamer lying out in the harbor all ready to leave for America” and “What America was I did not know, but I had imbibed enough of family talk to realize it was a land of plenty and an interesting place to go to.” Followed by a description of the crossing: “Well the Atlantic was rough and wild at times during July 1884 and our boat rolled and pitched in the heavy seas. I was tremendously impressed by the huge waves, which seemed like mountains to me.”
You don’t have to be Norwegian-American to enjoy Candace Simar‘s novels about the lives and hardships of Norwegian settlers in Minnesota in the mid 1800s. Her characters became very real to me as I read about how they dealt with love, the Indian Uprising, the Civil War, losing children, losing crops, and just getting on with their daily lives. How self-sufficient those settlers had to be! The advent of the sewing machine was major, since they made all their own clothes. She even tells parts of these stories from the Native American point of view.
After I finished the fourth one I was sad that there were no more. In order the books are: Abercrombie Trail: A Novel of the 1862 Uprising, Pomme De Terre, Birdie, and Blooming Prairie.
A History of Scandinavian DNA
If Scandinavian DNA is what interests you, you might like My European Family: The First 54,000 Years by Karin Bojs as much as I did. Karin, a journalist, learns about her ancient ancestors, after DNA testing, by going around Europe interviewing DNA researchers and archaeologists.
With the popularity of autosomal DNA tests, many people are not aware of how interesting it is to know about their deep ancestry via Y and mtDNA haplogroups. The Eupedia website has detailed information about the origins and history of each European haplogroup.
Only Family Tree DNA tests fully for these, although 23andMe will give you your top level haplogroups. If you tested at Ancestry DNA, you can upload to Promethease.com – the health information site – to determine your basic haplogroup, see http://www.geneticgenealogist.net/2016/01/how-to-get-ydna-haplogroup-from.html for how.
Personally I like to keep a chart of my family haplogroups.
No I am not planning a Friday Finds as a regular feature, just an occasional one. Many articles caught my attention this week so I thought I would share some of the posts I plan to read or reread this coming weekend.
How to organize your DNA data is a perpetual and perplexing question, touched with at the end of this excellent article from Legacy Tree Genealogists, “Going Beyond Ethnicity Estimates in DNA Testing”
Another article that might help you organize your results demonstrates a visual way to show the shared DNA among family members. Read this recent guest post by Lauren McGuire on Blaine Bettinger’s blog “The McGuire Method – Simplified Visual DNA Comparisons” to learn more.
The Journal of Genetic Genealogy (JOGG) has resumed publishing under the editorship of Leah Larkin and there are a number of articles that interest me in the most recent issue.
On my reading list are CeCe Moore’s The History of Genetic Genealogy and Unknown Parentage Research, Blaine Bettinger on citizen science and a review of GenomeMate, a tool many researchers use to organize their data. Personally I use spreadsheets because I started out that way. One for each family members’ segments, a list of contacts, plus a list of known relatives with kit numbers and email addresses. Click on DNA spreadsheets in my tag cloud to learn more.
And for my Norwegian research, I have already read and plan to reread this terrific article by Martin Roe, Let’s wring the census records. Most of these census records are online at the Norwegian archives (see my post on those archives)
This blog was intended to be a personal blog with many gardening, cooking, and genealogy posts. However after I tested my DNA and talked other family members into doing it too, I found that they needed explanations of how to do things at the various DNA companies. Unlike me they were not willing to spend hours and hours experimenting, so I added a number of tutorials for my cousins which are linked to from the top menu here under DNA testing as well as from under Resources. Soon I found myself writing more about DNA: tips, techniques, and success stories. Thus this blog morphed into being mainly about genetic genealogy. The numbers for each category shown on the left tell the story.
So enough DNA for now. To me the holidays are about love, family, friends, and food. Happy Holidays to all of you. Now for some food …
My late father always made us “Norwegies,” the family nickname for Norwegian pancakes, on Christmas morning as well as on many other special occasions. So guess what I cooked on Christmas morning for my jewish husband. No I will not make them on every day of Hannukah! Yes he did say that they were just like blintzes.
We stuffed them with strawberry jam and then sprinkled them with confectioner’s sugar. Click here for the family recipe in a previous year’s holiday food post (towards the end).
My New Year’s resolution is to write more food and garden posts, maybe as often as once a month, in addition to the usual weekly DNA post and the occasional genealogy post.
On GENI.com and wikitree.com they allow birth surnames for men and women which makes life easier for those of us with Norwegian ancestry since the farm name of birth can go into the “maiden” name slot for both sexes and the farm where they lived most of their life into the surname slot. It is important to use the farm name as a surname and put the patronymic in as a middle name, since it makes it much easier to find and identify an ancestor. There are so many Ole Olesons and Lars Larsons otherwise.
This wonderful blog post explains Norwegian naming in great detail.
Sadly she has not written very many blog posts.
[UPDATE 9-AUG-2017] That author, Anne Berge, told me to send people to this page instead for her Norwegian DNA project at Family Tree DNA:
I found the original on this page at GENI which discusses Norwegian ancestry in detail.