Back in the late 1800s our Norwegian ancestors and relatives came here in droves; about 80,000 Norwegians came before the Civil War and even more afterwards. Partially it was economic conditions in Norway but mainly it was due to the population pressures from improved medicine. The practice of dividing the farm among your boys does not work so well when you have ten children most of whom are now surviving to adulthood. So emigration to America was the solution for many.
Most of my relatives, like many Norwegian immigrants, settled out in the northern midwestern states: Illinois (Kendall County), Iowa (Story City), South Dakota and Wisconsin. However, my own ancestors stayed in New York. The ship’s carpenter Monsens and my g-grandfather Henry (Halvor Hans) Skjold settled in the Norwegian section of Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, NY. Hans was known as Henry H. Lee in this country. He was the embodiment of the successful immigrant story (see this newspaper article ) making it big with his harbor businesses.
Two of his sisters, both named Anna, kept to more traditional endeavors and headed to Kendall County, Illinois with their husbands and children and farmed. We are in touch with the Stevenson descendants who have a yearly reunion in July in Illinois. We always wondered about the descendants of his aunt Mette Tvetden Haaland, his dead mother’s half sister. She went to Wisconsin with her eight children and her husband Sjur who tragically died soon after arrival along with the baby. My Stevenson genealogist cousin and I had long since given up on finding her descendants. But along came DNA testing and suddenly I had some good matches in Dad’s 23andme account with the surname Holland, could it be? Why yes!
A long time ago I received an email from the husband of a possible cousin wondering if his wife’s WALD family was the same as our WOLD family. Naturally I suggested a DNA test and the results just came in. Yes she is a member of our WOLDs and is descended from my gg-grandfather Jørgen Oleson Wold via my g-grandmother Maren Wold’s brother Carl (Charlie) Wold. Below are the faces of four generations of my new 3rd cousin once removed’s ancestors.
Now for the details of how we used autosomal DNA testing to confirm this …
So many of these one segment DNA matches that I find with other testers are too far back to find the common ancestors. However those of us with Norwegian ancestry often have very deep trees thanks to the good records and the many farm books for each locality. So when you find a fellow genealogist with Norwegian roots who matches your DNA you get quite hopeful, and sure enough …
I had four matches, the colored lines in the picture below, for my Norwegian descended Dad on chromosome 16. However they span the centromere which is from 35335801 to 38335801, so initially these segments did not seem that promising.
Four people overlapping on Chromosome 16 from my one segment mapper tool
Luckily the most recent match had an extensive tree of which only a small piece was Norwegian. So perhaps it would be easier to find our common ancestor with less tree to look through. Note that using a tool to compare Norwegian GEDcoms does not usually work so well because of differences in naming conventions (patronymic, farm name, Norwegian characters, etc)
Here are the details of these segment overlaps from my master spreadsheet for Dad:
A Norwegian, who turned out to be a descendant of my gg-grandparents Jørgen Wold and Anna Knutsdatter of the Drammen area, tested his DNA on 23andme and came up a close match (3rd-5th cousin) to my Dad with 35 cM over three segments of matching DNA (0.48% shared). Most matches called 3rd to 5th have been just two segments and have turned out to not be that close but rather to share two ancestors. However Henrik was on GENI.com and an exploration of his tree found that he was descended from Jørgen Wold’s daughter Olava. This is the first time it has been so quick and easy to find a relationship! He is much younger than I am, so two generations further down the tree. Naturally I had to use the new DNAgedcom feature where I could compare him to all my shared profiles and see who else he matched. Here is the plot of his matches with my family and the larger shares (surnames removed for privacy except from my Dad and brother) created with my DNA segment mapper tool: