Monday, April 13, 2015

Mappy Monday : Here Comes the Syversen Family, part 3

The Syversen Family
created using Wordle.net


Between 1870 and 1900, a number of members of the Syversen family immigrated from Lesja, Oppland, Norway, and settled in the United States. Following their move, family members usually took on a variety of surnames. The primary ones found through US and state census records or engraved on cemetery markers are shown above.

By 1900, the family members were scattered across the midwest and were known by a number of different surnames. Yet, they were still family. Below is a brief look at the Syversen family after they came to the United States.

Patriarch Syver Hansen kept the surname of Hansen. A few years after immigrating, he died in Jackson County, Wisconsin.

His oldest daughter Anne Syversdatter and her husband Haldor Ericksen remained in Norway, but all five of their sons immigrated to the US in the 1870s. The brothers at times lived near each other but eventually were scattered across the country.  Son Elias moved to Wabaunsee County, Kansas and was known as Elias Holvorson for many years. Their second son Syver moved to Umatilla County, Oregon. Lars went by the name of Louis Halverson after his move to Garvin County, Oklahoma. Their fourth son Mathias. known as Mat Halvorsen, lived in Morrow County, Oregon. Ole, their youngest son, ended up in California. Three versions of a surname, four different states, and that is just one part of the Syversen family.

Hans Syversen, the son whose immigration started this series of posts, eventually lived in Day County, South Dakota, and took the surname of Belle. His sons Hans, Ole, Anton, and Otto continued to reside in South Dakota but used the Belden surname, Belden being the name of the farm area where the family has resided in Norway. Anton was later known as Anthony Belden while his brother Otto was sometimes referred to as Oscar Belden.

Another daughter, Ronaug Syversdatter, married in Norway and later immigrated to the Trempealeau, Wisconsin area with her husband, Syver Johannansen.

Guro Syversdatter seems to have been the first family member to immigrate, coming to the Chicago area around 1870. After her marriage to Erick Pederson, the family lived in Jackson County, Wisconsin. Through the years, several family members would stay with Guro and Erick after they first arrived in the US.

The second son, Syver Syversen also lived in the Jackson County, Wisconsin area. Syver, however, was known as Siver Siem, Siem being the name of another farming area in Norway.

My Great Grandmother, Kari Syversdatter, immigrated to the US before 1881 and married my Geat Grandmother, Peter Petersen Myren, They homesteaded in North Dakota, and a descendant of theirs still owns the family farm. Two of Kari and Peter's daughters preferred to use the surname of Myron while the rest of their siblings, as well as the parents, chose to use the name Myren.


It has been interesting to follow the various paths taken by members of the Syversen family. As shown on the map above, by 1900 the siblings and cousins were scattered across the country. Each seemed to have a surname preference, and although many were farmers, they also followed a variety of career paths. My research in following the family has also led me to contacts with other family members living across the US today.

I chose to write this post without my usual citations, but trust me, they exist. Feel free to contact me if you are interested in the sources used for the information presented here.

A final thank you to Thomas MacEntee. His Genealogy Do-Over encouraged me to be more systematic in my research and in recording the information I located. Without these tweaks to my methodology, I probably never would have been able to write this post.

Now, I think I'll take a look at some of those Bright Shiny Objects I came across in this journey.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Here Comes the Syversen Family, part 2



Lesja Church, Oppland, Norway
photo by Henny Stokseth, Wikimedia Commons

I've been on the immigration trail of my Great Grandmother Kari Syversdatter Myren for the past several years, trying to see how she left the village of Lesja in Oppland, Norway and came to North Dakota.  Previously I had described some of my efforts in a post written in March, 2013. After my relative ease in finding how her brother Hans Syversen came from Norway to the US, I hoped to be more successful in learning about Kari. I would use the steps that had worked so successfully with Hans.

1. Use the Norwegian census records for 1865, 1875, and 1885 to establish the last census year in which the family or individual was recorded as living in Norway. (Digital Archives of Norway). Also, check US Federal census records to see when the family is recorded in the US.


Kari was listed as living with her parents, Syver Hansen and Marit Olsdatter, in both the 1865 and 1875 census of Norway but not in the 1885 census. The first census which records Kari as living in the US is the 1885 Dakota Territory Census.(1) In this 1885 census Kari, now married to Peter Peterson Myren, was listed as the mother of two children, ages 3 and 1, both of whom were listed as being born in the Dakota Territory. This sets Kari's migration bracket as being between 1875 and 1882.


2. Check local parish records to see if the family or person is listed as a "Removal", the column heading used for individuals notifying the church of their intent to move out of the area or to emigrate. (DAofN)


Several months ago I was looking for something else in the Lesja Parish records and stumbled upon the Migration Record for Kari.(2)




At the time I first found this record, I made a note in Family Tree Maker about the other person, Marie Hansdatter of Belden Farm, who was planning to leave Lesja the same time as Kari. I wondered who Marie was, a neighbor, friend, relative. As I started planning to write this post and was considering resources to mention, I had one of those "duh" moments. Marie Hansdatter, born in 1858, living on Belden Farm is in all likelihood the "missing daughter"t of Kari's brother Hans Syversen and also Kari's niece,  It now looked as if these two girls might be planning to travel together to America, leaving Norway on 25 April 1878. Surely two women traveling together should be easier to track than one person traveling alone.

The Digital Archives of Norway has digitized a number of records related to immigration. In their "Emigrants From Oslo 1867-1930", I found a record that might belong to Kari.(3) The database provided the following information about a Kari Hansen, a possible name for Kari since her father was Syver Hansen. Here is the information provided about Kari; my comments about the information are written in red. These are the reasons I say it might be for my Kari rather than being certain.
  • Names:  Kari Hansen possible name
  • Gender:  female
  • Age:  24  Kari's age in 1858 would have been 25
  • Residence:  Oier Oier is a parish located in an area close to Lesja, Oppland
  • Position:  a Girl term usually means a servant girl who isn't part of the family
  • Date of emigration:  23 June 1878
  • Port of departure:  Oslo
  • Destination:  White Hall Wisconsin Kari's older sister Guro had immigrated to American about 9-10 years earlier and resided near this town in the 1880 US Federal Census
  • [Ship] Line:  Hero This ship only took passengers from Oslo to Liverpool, after that the person had to travel to the east coast of England to board a ship to travel to America
  • Freight cost:  paid sometimes this indicated that the person emigrating held a prepaid ticket from Oslo to their final destination, in this case, Wisconsin
"Emigrants From Oslo" is a database, not a digitized record which I could browse for myself. No matter which search terms I used, I was never able to find a similar record for Kari's niece and possible traveling companion, Marie Hansdatter. Nor did I ever find listings for Hans Syversen's family as they had prepared to leave in July of 1878 as seen in a previous post.

3. Study US Federal Census records to see the year recorded for immigration, number of years in the US, or information on naturalization. (Ancestry.com)


In the 1900 US Federal Census, Kari Syversdatter Myren was reported as coming to the US in 1880 and being in the US for 20 years. According to the 1910 US Federal Census, Kari had immigrated to the United States in 1879. The 1920 US Census recorded Kari as coming to the US in 1878 and being naturalized in 1890, the same time as her husband Peter Petersen Myren. The census of 1930 also provided the same 1878 date for immigration. So, in a number of different census records, Kari is recorded as coming to the US between 1878 and 1880.


4. Search for the family or individual in immigration databases and ships' passengers lists.  Use sites such as Ancestry.comFamilySearch.orgLibrary and Archives of CanadaThe Ships List,  Castle Garden for immigration 1820-1892, Ellis Island, or Steve Morse's One-Step Search.

This step kept me busy recording "no record found" on my research spreadsheet. I searched for both Kari and her niece Marie Hansdatter without success. I used NorwayHeritage's databases to make a list of possible ships on which Kari might have sailed with a later April 1878 departure date. Some docked at New York, others in Philadelphia, or Quebec. Then over several days, I searched more than 25 ships' passenger lists accessed through Ancestry.com and was not able to find either girl listed as a passenger. Not giving up, I tried searching a list of passenger lists for ships departing England in late July of 1878, the time listed in the Emigrants From Oslo database. Still no success.


For those ships docking at Quebec, I searched the immigration databases found on the Library and Archives of Canada website. Next I tried searching in the Castle Garden database. Again, no records using either website.

Kari Syversdatter's date and means of arrival in the United States continues to be a mystery. It is obvious that she left Norway. Obvious that she lived for over 40 years in North Dakota. There is just that gap between leaving Norway and residing in North Dakota that continues to be so elusive. When I compare my efforts concerning Kari with those on behalf of her brother Hans, it has seemed much easier to track a male through the immigration process.

But wait, there's more ...

(1) 1885 Dakota State Census, Traill County, [population schedule], Hillsboro Township, p. 5, dwelling 428, family 440, for Petter Petterson [and family]; North Dakota State University Archives, Fargo, [microfilm # unknown].
(2) Oppland (Lesja, Norway), Parish Register (Official) 8, 1854-1880, Migration Records 1878, p 587; Digital Archives of Norway.
(3) Emigrants From Oslo 1867-1930, "Kari Hansen"; accessed Digital Archives of Norway.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Here Comes the Syversen Family, part 1


SS Germanic, White Star Line
source: John S. Johnston [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The other day I really seemed to be on a roll. In a relatively short time, I located the passenger list showing my 2Great Uncle Hans Syverson and his family arriving at the Port of New York on 17 Aug 1878 aboard the SS Germanic.(1)    Some of the research involved records accessed through the Digital Archives of Norway (DAofN). I accessed other records through Ancestry.com.

My successful plan for finding Hans Syversen's immigration records used the following steps.

1. Use the Norwegian census records for 1865, 1875, and 1885 to establish the last census year in which the family or individual was recorded as living in Norway. (DAofN). Also, check US Federal census records to see when the family is recorded in the US.


Hans and his family were recorded in both the 1865 census for Norway and the 1875 census for Norway but not in the 1885 census. Both 1865 and 1875 records showed the family living on the Belden South Farm in Lesja Parish of Oppland. According to the 1880 US census, the Hans Syversen family was living in Linden, Brown County, Minnesota. This gave me a timeframe of between 1875 and 1880 for the family's emigration period.


2. Check local parish records to see if the family or person is listed as a "Removal", the column heading used for individuals notifying the church of their intent to move out of the area or to emigrate. (DAofN)


Oppland, Lesja Parish, Register #8, Migration Records, 1878-1879, p 589
Digital Archives of Norway

After looking at the Migration Records for 1875-1877, I found this page listing Hans and his family.  The family had notified the church of their plan to leave 17 July 1878 for America.   All of the family, Hans Syverson of Belden Farm, his wife Marit Paulsdatter, and their children Toline, Sofia, Marit, Hans, Ole, and Anton were planning to emigrate to America.

3. Study US Federal Census records to see the year recorded for immigration, number of years in the US, or information on naturalization. (Ancestry.com)

According to the 1900 US Federal Census, Hans immigrated to the US in 1878 and had been in the United States 22 years. This agreed with the parish record shown above. For the son Hans, however, different information. In the 1910 census, son Hans indicated he had immigrated in 1889 while the 1920 census gave 1876 as the year he arrived in the US. In the 1915 South Dakota census, son Hans said he came in 1875 and had been in the US for 40 years.  Hans (the father) had the date of 1878 that corresponded with the parish date of 1878. His son Hans, for unknown reasons, had various dates ranging from 1876 to 1889. I chose to consider 1878 as the probable date the family emigrated since the father Hans had provided that date in 1900, a time closer to the actual event than the later years in which his son Hans gave emigration information.


4. Search for the family or individual in immigration databases and ships' passengers lists.  Use sites such as Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.orgLibrary and Archives of Canada, The Ships List,  Castle Garden for immigration 1820-1892, Ellis Island, or Steve Morse's One-Step Search.

This part of my research took a number of tries. With our immigrant ancestors, we are viewing passengers lists sometimes written by someone writing in English based on information spoken in another language so the variation in the spelling of names can necessitate additional searches for information. Add to the passenger list information, the fact that it has been transcribed or edited by yet others who may not be familiar with names from other countries.

Another variable in my search was estimating the arrival date for the family. I found a series of excellent articles about the process of emigration from Norway and conditions found in the steamers that crossed the Atlantic to America on the Norway Heritage website.  The articles mentioned that Norwegian immigrants primarily sailed from Norway to Hull in Yorkshire, England or other several other English ports. From the English port, the emigrants would travel by rail across England to the port of Liverpool to begin their trip across the Atlantic. The trip might take as long as a month based on making the connection to cross England and board the transatlantic steamer. If Hans had indicated to the Lesja Parish church that he and the family planned to leave on 17 July 1878, I hoped to find him arriving in American sometime in August of 1878.

A third variable concerned how his name might be listed on a passenger list - Hans Syverson, Hans Syverson Belden, Hans Belle as he was listed in the 1880 US census, or perhaps some variation I had not anticipated. Through trial and error and much adjusting of the "Broad to Exact" sliders on Ancestry's search boxes, I finally found the family of H S Belle listed as arriving at the Port of New York on 17 Aug 1878, exactly one month after the family departed from Norway.

I was not certain at first this was MY Hans Syverson of Belden farm. I looked back at both the 1875 Norway Census and the parish Migration Record to compare the Norwegian family listings with the one on the New York passenger list. One huge difference was seeing the entire family listed on the passenger list as being from Sweden instead of Norway. The family members' names and information were generally more accurate. Below is my transcription of the passenger list with corrections made in (red).

#154    H S Belle    age 44   male    farmer    Sweden (Norway)
#155    Mar (Marit) Belle    age 43    female    wife    Sweden (Norway)
NOTE: daughter Marie was listed as leaving on the parish Migration Record, but she was not on the passenger list.  Checking into this is definitely on my To-Do List.
#156    John Belle    age 17    male    laborer    Sweden    (Here was a big difference - no John was ever recorded as being a member of the family. However, there was a daughter Toline Belle, age 17 in 1878, who is also listed in the 1865, 1875 and 1880 censuses.)
#157    Sofia Belle    age 14    female    spinster
#158    Maret (Marit) Belle   age 11    male (female)    child    Sweden (Norway)
#159    Hans Belle    age 9    male   child    Sweden (Norway)
#159    Ole Belle    age 5    male    child    Sweden (Norway)
#160    Anton Belle    age 3    male    child    Sweden (Norway)

Comparing this passenger list with information I already knew about the family, I was confident I had found the passenger list for my 2Great Uncle Hans Syversen and his family. According to SteveMorse.org, all passengers arriving in New York in 1878 would have been processed through Castle Garden so I also looked for the family using the Castle Garden database. On the Castle Garden website, I wasn't as successful in finding a listing for the family's arrival. Their website provides a template of information on individual passengers rather than digitized records that can be browsed. I never keyed in the right set of search terms to actually find the Syversen family records.


I had found the information in a few hours and without a lot of difficulties, thanks to the sliders on Ancestry.com's search screen.  I thought I had established a winning sequence of research steps for tracing my Norwegian relatives on their travels to America.  I couldn't wait to try it out on other relatives who I knew had immigrated to the US in the late 1800s.

To be continued ...

(1) "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957", SS Germanic, arrival Port of New York 17 Aug 1878; accessed Ancestry.com; citing National Archives M237, roll 414.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over, Week 12: Sharing Research on WikiTree


Last week's e-mail had an interesting, make that huge, BSO (bright, shiny object). Someone had written me concerning a blog post I wrote over a year ago about my husband's 2GGrandfather, Elijah Hillhouse. In the post I had written about Elijah's military service in two different conflicts. This e-mail was a BSO as I have been running into dead ends in my Norwegian research and felt I could use a break

The e-mail asked if I would share some of Elijah's information on WikiTree.  I had registered to participate in WikiTree several years ago, but I had not been involved in posting any information there.  This correspondence gave me the impetus to look more closely at WikiTree and how the site operates.


The primary reason I have been looked at WikiTree at all was its emphasis on citing sources for information and its collaborative nature in developing family trees. Before I started working in an existing WikiTree, I wanted to start building a tree of my one. This would give me a chance to learn more about how the whole system operates.


Because I have been so involved in researching my Norwegian ancestors during the Genealogy Do-Over weeks, I felt this was the time to share my work on WikiTree in addition to updating my tree on Ancestry.  I did a GEDCOM ancestor export from Family Tree Maker of my Grandfather Michael Myren (the son of two Norwegian immigrants) and his ancestors. The next day I received an e-mail from WikiTree accepting my contribution.  My contribution of Michael Myren's tree was accepted in its entirety as there were no apparent duplicate names with those in other WikiTrees. So far I haven't received any contact from others researching my ancestors, but I am hoping that sometime in the future I will.


Before I started to add some information about Elijah Hillhouse to the existing WikiTree, I spent time reading the details the website provides on editing and citing information.  Adding bits of specific information wasn't as simple as uploading my GEDCOM file. After all, the intent of WikiTree is to have only one collaborative tree for a family, not multiple ones. Admittedly, it took me about an hour to add a few facts about Elijah's family and the sources for the facts.  Entering information isn't as effortless as using the templates that I am accustomed to with Family Tree Maker, but it wasn't as difficult as writing a bunch of HTML code. Because the manager for tree (on which Elijah's family was a branch) had made me a trusted contributor, I was able to add several facts to the tree as well as to add Elijah's parents and grandparents to the tree. It was an interesting experience to share some of my research through contributing to someone else's WikiTree .


Now I'm ready to "head back to Norway".  Following up on that e-mail was like a breath of fresh air.  It provided me with an opportunity to see what WikiTree has become.  It provided me a reason to share research with others.  And, it has provided me with another place to look when I am researching an individual.  If you haven't used WikiTree before, I urge you to take a look and see if its collaborative research can help you.

P.S. If you are one of my former students, as with Wikipedia, the information on WikiTree is only as good was where the information was originally found. The format of WikiTree makes it easy to see the sources each contributor used.