10 January 2023

My Genealogical Year of 2022

Last week I wrote an article about my published articles and Slektshistoriewiki contributions in 2022. But of course there is more to a genealogical year than how many articles one has written during a year. One could also mention trips to see places you descend from, churches linked to your own family or other familes you have been researching, family graves, family reunions, genealogy conferences etc. And of course last, but not least, genealogical discoveries! Any brick wall breakings?

So how should I summarize my genealogical year of 2022? The pandemic caused many events to be cancelled or postponed. Norsk Slektshistorisk Forening (NSF) – the Norwegian Genealogical Society in English – traditionally hosts Genea-LAN – LAN-party for genealogists – once a year. The 2021 was called off due to the pandemic, but in March 2022 the situation was much better, so in the weekend of  26–27 March around 30 genealogists gathered in the society's library in Lørenskog just outside Oslo, the capital of Norway. The aim is to do research non-stop from 11 a.m. Saturday morning to around 3 p.m. on Sunday. Many work on their own projects, but also give time to help others solving their challenges. There are lectures, quiz and plenty of time to socialize. The first Genea-LAN party ever took place in 2012, and the event in 2022 was the ninth. Only the events in 2018 and 2021 were called off. It really was a nice weekend, and I look very much forward to the next LAN party, which will take place during the last weekend of January 2023.

The Norwegian Genealogical Society also invites to a genealogy get-together in the library every second Saturday except in the summer months and Easter. I have attended several of these Genealogial Saturdays during 2002, and I also attended the annual meeting on the last day of May. Unfortunately the NSF genealogical conference which was to take place in October was called off.

In May my family had visitors from California – my third cousin once removed Christy and her son Ryan on the Hoelseth side of my family – came to stay with us for almost two weeks. I had not seen them since I visited California in 2000, so it was really lovely to see them again.

On most of the weekdays they toured Oslo on their own, but I took a couple of days off to show them Sandefjord so that they could meet my parents and we also traveled to Åmot where the Holset farm is situated. The photo above shows the remaining buildings at the farm.

Holsethaugen («The Holset Hill») nearby, where there are law-protected graves from Iron Age. After the visit to Holset I also showed some my visitors some other family farms in the area and took them to the family grave at Åmot Cemetery before we traveled to Hafjell for the weekend. Before we returned to Oslo we also spent some time in Lillehammer. Christy and Ryan also celebrated the Norwegian constitutional day – 17th of May – with us.

In June the Norwegian Genealogical Society arranged a guided trip for the members to Finnskogen (literally «Forest of the Finns») on both side of the Norwegian-Swedish boarder, We visited several farms which were cleared and settled by Forest Finns during the late 16th and early-to-mid-17th centuries, and we had lunch at Karmenkynna hembygdsgård (museum) at Lekvattnet in the municipality of Torsby (photo above). To learn more about the Forest Finns, see the Wikipedia article. I don't have Forest Finn ancestry, but I have always been interested in the minorities living in Norway, and I feel I learnt a lot during the Finnskogen tour.

Yours sincerely at the Forest Finn farm of Juhola.

Time for the «genealogical tour of the year»! On 23 June I traveled with three other genealogists up to Sollia Church in the municipality of Stor-Elvdal. The church was built on the land of my 7-x-great-grandfather Engebret Jonsen Sollien (1697–1760). 

Inside the church there is a portrait made of my ancestor in 1745 by the artist Erich Wallin.

The Engebret Jonsen Sollien memorial at the Sollia Cemetery. Not the original grave/headstone, mind you. Vi visited numerous churches during the trip – besides Sollia we photographed the churches of Stor-Elvdal, Atneosen, Øvre Rendal (Rendalen municipality), Ytre Rendal (Rendalen municipality), Sjøli (Rendalen municipality) and Deset in Åmot municipality. I hope to include photos of these churches in a later blog article or at least in articles at Slektshistoriewiki, the Norwegian genealogy wiki.

We also stopped at several farms, including Deset søndre («Søgarden») in Åmot where the sister of my 4-x-great-grandfather Ole Tollefsen Holset (1789–1840), Ingeborg Tollefsdatter (1802–1860), lived with her husband Otter Knutsen. Ole and Ingeborg were great-grandchildren of Engebret Jonsen Sollien mentioned above. Finally we made a stop at Holset, which means that I managed to visit my ancestral farm twice this year. This time there were sheep grazing on the land. Fortunately of the friendly sort!

In July I made a genealogical discovery which ended in a small article. I wouldn't call it a groundbreaking discovery, but nevertheless great to have found one missing piece in the puzzle. I had known for many years that my great-great grandmother and ancestor no. 23, Johanne Lovise Ragnhildrød (1854–1946) became a widow around 36 years old when her husband, Gustav Anton Hansen (Helgerød), b. in Stokke in Vestfold in 1853, was lost at sea. From time to time I had tried to locate more information about him, but to no avail. The Norwegian National Library have among others scanned newspapers on its website and almost every day new items are added, which means that you have to remember to make new searches for your «brick wall ancestors» now and then. And this is what I did one wonderful summer day in July. This time I found a newspaper article from January 1891, containing extracts of the maritime declaration following the shipwreck of the bark Carricks, and where my great-great-grandfather Gustav was mentioned as one of the 10 seamen who had fallen overboard and drowned during a heavy storm in the Sargasso Sea on 1 December 1890. So now I know exactly what happened as well as the death date. Finally! The article about the bark and the shipwreck can be found here. In connection with this discovery I also found out that Louise and Gustav had a boy, Georg Ludvig, who was born in November 1882 and died in February 1883, 3 months old. Previously I had only registered one son as well as two daughters – my great-grandmother Gunda Helene (1879–1962) and her twin sister Anna Kristine. 

This summer my wife, daughter and I spent 15 days in France. First a week in La Grand-Motte and the second week in Cannes. The seaside resort of La Grand-Motte was built in the 1960s and early 1970s and many of the buildings are pyramidal in form. During our stay we made trips to Carcassonne, Avignon and Montpellier, but also had a few relaxing days on the beach. But of course I couldn't help myself – there was a cemetery in La Grande-Motte that had to be explored. Most of the headstones were like in other cemeteries in France, but of course some of the urn walls were shaped like a pyramid. Jean Balladur (1924–2002), the architect behind La Grand-Motte's pyramid buildings, is also buried at the cemetery. I might return with an article about  the cemetery later on.

Examples of La Grand-Motte's pyramids.

We spent the last day in Nice before returning to Norway. My wife and daughter went shopping while I went to the cemeteries! There are three cemeteries in the Caucade area in Nice – Cimetière de Saint-Marguerite, Cimetière Municipal de Caucade and Cimetière Orthodoxe Russe – and all within a walking distance from my hotel near the airport. It was a very warm and sunny day, so if you understand enough French to figure out how to get there by bus I would recommend it. I guess I would have figured it out if I really wanted to, but I really needed some exercise! The British Civil  Cemetery of Saint-Marguerite has graves of many British exiles and others. My only goal there was to find the grave of Charles Henry Spencer-Churchill (1828–1877), a grandson of the 5th Duke of Marlborough. The grave was almost hidden by a bigh bush, so someone needs to fix it up, as it wasn't easy to take a good photo of. If anyone wonders, Sir Winston Churchill (1874–1965) was a grandson of the 7th Duke of Marlborough, who again was a grandson of the 5th Duke of Marlborough, so here you roughly have the relationship between Charles Henry and Sir Winston, i.e. 3rd cousins twice removed. I hope I got that right ... There were many interesting graves at the British cemetery, but this will do for now.

My main goal for this cemetery excursion was to visit the Russian-Orthodox Cemetery, where quite a few exiled Russian royals and aristocrats are buried. All in all I took 180 photos from my visit there, but I will only publish a few of them. Just look at the view from the cemetery! Just breathtaking!

Grave of Prince Rostislav Alexandrovich of Russia (1902–1978) and his third wife Hedwig-Marie von Chappuis (1905–1997).

Tomb of Princess Catherine Dolgorukova, Princess Yurievskaya (1847–1922), the morganatic wife of Emperor Alexander II of Russia (1818–1881).

Grave of Princess Helen (Jelena) of Russia. née Princess of Serbia (1884–1962) (widow of Prince Ivan of Russia (1886–1918).

Obolensky family grave.

Grave of Prince Michel Obolensky (1912–1977) and Marivonne Obolensky, née Bourgeois-Gavardin (1915–1994).

Grave of Prince Michel Nicolaievitch Obolensky (1943–2009).

Grave of Prince Yaschwill (1931–2017), married to Princess Yaschwill, née Marie-France Dornberger (1939–). It should be possible to find more details about Prince Yaschwill, but that is not really the topic of this blog article. As said, I took 180 photos at the cemetery, but I can't include them all here. So many interesting family names ... 

I also walked through the municipal cemetery at Caucade. Even though I visited the cemetery on a Sunday, the office was open, and I was able to ask about a grave on behalf of a fellow Norwegian genealogist. It turned out that the persons I asked about were not buried there, but in a small town outside of Nice. 

In August I attended Svenska Släktforskardagarna – the Swedish Genealogy Convention – in Skövde. A large number of Swedish genealogical societies had their own stand in the conference hall, and there were many interesting lectures.

In early October my family and I traveled to Oxford, England to visit friends. Oxford deserves several blog articles alone, as there is so much to explore there, but this time I will only mention a visit to the Holy Trinity Church at Headington Quarry outside Oxford. The author  C.S. Lewis (Clive Staples Lewis (1898–1963) is buried at the cemetery there, and inside the church you can see the Narnia window, which features images from C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia.

All 28 photos: © 2022 Dag Trygsland Hoelseth.

In November my parents celebrated their 80th birthdays together with family and friends, so I was able to see many family members I hadn't seen in a while. Finally, in December my eldest niece, who lives in Toronto, came home to celebrate Christmas and I was thrilled to be able to meet my great-nephew, who was born in July this year, for the first time!

Updated on Wednesday 11 January 2023 at 08:15 ("Norwegian National Archives" replaced by "Norwegian National Library", some missing words in the paragraph about Prince Yaschwill added).

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful!! It will take me some time to carefully read through so many interesting topics. Happy that your family could meet again after several years of not being able to. The story of Gustav Anton Hansen lost at sea reminds me of the search I had for a kinsman (21 years) whose death record gave the cause of death as "drowning". For years I tried to find more particulars to no avail. I decided to check a chronological death index and noticed there were other young men who died of drowning on the same date, same place. A check at the archives for newspaper articles produced the jackpot--the whole story of the tragic shipwreck. I look forward to reading more about the Russian graves. Happy New Year! KFB