Saturday, 22 February 2020

Ingeborg Eriksdatter Elton (1794-1849) (52 Ancestors 2020 Week 9) Theme: "Disaster"

At the time this story is being written, news reports center on coronavirus COVID-19 causing self-imposed and officially imposed quarantines on shore and on cruise ships. Travel and business are being damaged as alarm is spreading around the world along with the virus. Although COVID-19 is a new virus, similar communicable diseases are not new; they have been around since time began and most certainly impacted the lives of our ancestors.

Cholera is one such disease. There have been a series of pandemics/epidemics over the centuries. The third wave of cholera in the 19th century was ongoing during 1849-1850 when members of my extended family succumbed to it.

Ingeborg Eriksdatter Elton was my third great grandaunt on my father's side, younger sister to my 3X great grandfather Andris Erikson Elton. She was born on the Elton farm in the Vang, Valdres area of Oppland, Norway and baptised 2 March 1794 in the Vang Church.

Vang Kirke Photo by John Erling Blad
Wikimedia Commons

When Ingeborg grew up she married Ole Knudson Stende on 18 October 1818 in the Vang Kirke and went to live with him on his nearby farm. The couple would have 3 children: Ingeborg Olsdatter Stende, Gunvor Olsdatter Stende and Knut (or Newton Andrew) Olson Stende. (There seems to have been a huge unexplained gap between the birth of first child in December of 1818 and the next apparently not until fourteen years later in 1832.)

By the middle of the 19th century, hordes of Norwegians were emigrating to America. Ingeborg and Ole were among them. The Vang church record for out-migrations shows the couple, each age 55 and the two younger children, Gunvor 17 and Knut 14 1/2 leaving for America in 1849.

Udflyttede record for 1849 (9 March) from the Vang church records

The passenger list  for the newly constructed Norwegian Brig Concordia shows Ole and Ingeborg and the two children making the voyage in steerage, leaving Bergen, Norway on 12 May 1849 and arriving in New York City almost two months later on 10 July. No doubt their experience was a far cry from the comforts experienced by ocean-going passengers today. After arriving in New York, they proceeded (again largely by boat) to Wisconsin, the most popular area for Norwegian settlers at that time.

Then tragedy struck! Both parents fell victim to the cholera epidemic sweeping the country. Within two days (24-26 July 1849) the two teen-aged children were left orphaned in a new land. Fortunately they were taken in by extended family members who had already immigrated to the area.

Peter Harstad (see Resource List below) discusses the history of the cholera epidemics in Wisconsin in the 1830s and in 1849-50. At the time, it was thought that impure air ("miasma") was the cause of the disease. Sometimes, more fatalistically, it was simply blamed on "Providence". Because of this lack of scientific understanding, it was mistakenly believed for awhile that the disease was not contagious. Treatments included bleeding or administering medicines such as mercury, laudanum (opium), morphine, turpentine and sulphur. Quarantines were sometimes attempted.

Although not necessarily fatal, the disease was very fast-acting with terrible symptoms of dehydration and diarrhea that often resulted in a quick death, seemingly within hours of the onset of any symptoms. Terrified of catching cholera, people often fled from one area to another, carrying the disease with them and making matters worse through close proximity on boats, trains and stage coaches and often sharing a common contaminated source of water or food. The middle of the 19th century was also the time of mass migrations during the Crimean War, the California Gold Rush and the Irish potato famine. People were on the move; cholera moved right along with them.

Business owners were terrified of potential economic damage caused by fear of the plague. The Milwaukee media shamed doctors and the Board of Health for trying to provide honest information to the public. Eventually the Board of Health doctors were replaced by lay citizens, generally businessmen who greatly underestimated the severity of the disease. This makes it difficult to get accurate statistics on the number who died in the epidemic.

Then, as now, immigrants were often made scapegoats. Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famine were frequently blamed for importing the disease into America. (Given the timing, it is probable that our family did not bring cholera with them from Norway and instead contracted the disease once they were in America.)

Matters were made worse just a week or two after the deaths of Ingeborg and her husband. President Taylor set aside the first Friday of August as a day for prayer, humiliation and fasting. Thousands flocked to congregate at church services, thereby spreading the disease even further. It was difficult to keep up with all the burials required. In some cases, if a whole family died, their house was simply burned to the ground with their bodies still inside. Presumably this didn't happen to Ingeborg and her husband since they had not been in the country long enough to establish a home.


Another of my relatives, John Bullen, my third great granduncle on my mother's side, also died of cholera in Wisconsin during this same epidemic. Born in 1783, he had been instrumental in starting the new settlement of Kenosha north of Chicago on Lake Michigan. He died there of cholera on 15 August 1850. No one else in his family seems to have succumbed, but he had been a particularly active man and would have been out and about in the community making him perhaps more vulnerable.

John Bullen (1783-1850)
A couple of weeks after John's death, Michael  Frank (Poormaster and Chief of Board of Health) recorded the Kenosha cholera fatalities in his diary of 26 August 1850, indicating that the epidemic appeared to have run its course with the number of fatalities that season being 32.

Four years later, a physician in London, England named John Snow discovered that cholera was being spread through contaminated drinking water. After this, improvements were made in hygiene and in water and sewage systems around the world such that cholera has largely been eliminated in developed countries.

Cholera continues to be a problem in war-torn, poor or devastated areas such as occurred in Haiti after the earthquake there resulted in contamination of their water supply. It is estimated by Phelps et al. (see Resource List below) that there are still 2-3 million cases worldwide resulting in over 100,000 deaths each year. Let us hope that medical practitioners, scientists, politicians and the public at large can successfully work together to contain COVID-19 so that it does not exact such an ongoing toll.

Resource List: 

Saturday, 15 February 2020

William Mullins (c.1572-1621 ) (52 Ancestors 2020 Week 8) Theme: "Prosperity"

Prosperity is hard to find in my family tree. Most ancestors seem to have attained, at most, a modicum of comfort and security. But prosperity can be a relative term: if you seem to be a bit better off than your neighbours, perhaps they see you as prosperous. This might be said of my 11X great grandfather William Mullins. With 2020 marking the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Mayflower in America, this story centers on its relatively prosperous passenger William Mullins who made the voyage at about 50 years of age.

Although people love to claim Mayflower ancestors, these were not high society wealthy immigrants! They were, in the main, religious dissidents. But not all the Mayflower passengers were Pilgrims (sometimes called "Saints"); this was the group that were persecuted in England for their desire to separate from the established church, a wish that landed them in hot water over and over again with the church authorities. Many of the people who eventually made their way aboard Mayflower were just regular English folk: craftsmen and tradesmen. The Mullins were among the latter group, although there is a strong suggestion that William was taken to court in Surrey, England for his religious leanings. He was probably a Puritan.

William Mullins was from Dorking, Surrey, just southwest of London. He had been a shopkeeper there for many years and had been married at least a couple of times before making the decision to leave England with wife Alice and his youngest children: Joseph and  Priscilla.

William Mullins purchased this building of 4 unit street-front shops on 28 December 1612
Photograph by Richard Slessor / 
Antique shops in West Street, Dorking 

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Probably in anticipation of his move, in May of 1619 William sold the Dorking property pictured above to Ephraim Bothell for 280 pounds. He made a large investment as part of the Merchant Adventurers group that financed the Mayflower journey.

When the Mayflower left Plymouth, England in September of 1620, William Mullins was aboard, along with wife Alice and children Joseph and Priscilla and a servant named Robert Carter. He also packed aboard over 250 shoes and 13 pairs of boots. No, he didn't plan to wear all these himself! William was a shoemaker and planned to establish a shop in America.

Mayflower II (replica vessel) in Plymouth Harbour 1999

It was not an easy journey and they did not land in America until far too late in the season. Landing off Cape Cod instead of  the intended destination of Virginia meant that some sort of self-government agreement was required until they could obtain approval from England. When the Mayflower Compact was signed on 11 November 1620 as the ship lay at anchor off the tip of Cape Cod, William Mullins was one of the signatories.

Signatories of the Mayflower Compact
(William Mullins half-way down left column)

Much has been written about the tough winter the newcomers endured. Lacking clean warm shelter and adequate food, half of the 102 original passengers and crew died that winter in what was called the "General Sickness". One of the first to die was William Mullins on February 21. Wife Alice and son Joseph soon died too, as did their servant Robert Carter. (Of the Mullins family, only daughter Priscilla, my 10X great grandmother, survived the General Sickness that winter.  On 12 May 1622 she married the Mayflower's cooper John Alden, went on to have ten children with him and lived into her 80s.)

William Mullins listed in Coles Hill Burying Ground Memorial
Photo by Marina Williams Findagrave website

William Mullins was buried secretly with all the others who died that winter on a hill overlooking Plymouth Rock in the Coles Hill Burial Ground, Plymouth. The bodies were buried under cover of darkness to prevent the Native Americans from realizing just how vulnerable the colonists had become.

Memorial to Mayflower passengers who died during the winter of 1621
Photo by Emjay on Findagrave website

Relatively well-off, William Mullins never got to set up his shop to prosper by selling all those boots and shoes in the new settlement. He did, however, leave a lasting legacy in the multitude of descendants who claim him as an ancestor.

Some Resources:

  • Williston, George F., Saints and Strangers (Being the Lives of the Pilgrim Gathers & Their Families, with Their Friends & Foes; & an Account of Their Posthumous Wanderings in Limbo, Their Final Resurrection & Rise to Glory, & the Strange Pilgrimages of Plymouth Rock), New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1945.
  • Johnson, Caleb H., The Mayflower and Her Passengers, Xlibris Corporation 2006. Also Caleb Johnson's Mayflower webpage on William Mullins.
  • Roser, Susan E., Mayflower Increasings 2nd Edition, Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1997.
  • Wikipedia entry for William Mullins  which contains many additional references.
  • Find a Grave website for the Coles Hill Burial Ground located online.

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Grace Fairbanks (1663-1689) (52 Ancestors 2020 Week 7) Theme: "Favourite Discovery"

Exploring family history for the past 23 years has led to many favourite discoveries. For at least a brief moment, each new discovery is my favourite! Recalling those early days of researching my family tree reminds me of the urgent sense of curiosity I had about the name "Grace Fairbank" hand-printed by my Uncle Bob as part of the family tree he had made for the family.

R.W. Anderson 1970s compiled Bullen Family Tree

Although 1997 was early days for the internet, simple searches could yield nuggets of genealogical information. My first searches were for John Bullen and Mary Morse in early New England, but that soon led me to see what I could learn about their children. I was particularly intrigued by the women who seemed to just marry into the family by dropping from the skies with no ancestral backgrounds of their own. Grace was wife to John and Mary (Morse) Bullen's son Ephraim Bullen (1653-1694) and mother to my ancestor John Bullen (1687-1757). She is my 7X great grandmother. 

There were some tantalizing online hints that perhaps our Grace was Grace Fairbanks, part of the family associated with the Fairbanks House. There was a fascinating description of some of the supposed exploits of Jonas Fairbanks who might be Grace's father.

Fairbanks House, Dedham MA
Photographed in 1999
This was before the days where sites like Familysearch and Ancestry provided digitized original source records. There were message boards and one early site called Genserv. As I recall, by providing them with your family tree file for use on the site, you were allowed a specified number of searches each hour or day. Often this was not enough and the results that came back were only as good as the uploaded family trees provided by other users. Frustratingly, many searches came back showing that Jonas Fairbanks and his wife Lydia Prescott did have a daughter named Grace Fairbanks who was born 15 September 1663 in Lancaster, Massachusetts. But there was no information on any marriage or children, where she lived out her life or when she died. My frustration seemed to go on for months, although I'm sure it was probably only a matter of days before enough documentation was found to convince me that our Grace was indeed Grace Fairbanks, daughter of Jonas Fairbanks and granddaughter of immigrants Jonathan and Grace (Smith) Fairbanks who had erected Fairbanks House. 

Grace was just 12 when her father and brother were killed during King Philip's War. Being in the middle of a pack of eight children in the now fatherless family no doubt meant she was called upon to help with her younger siblings. Fortunately, widowed mother Lydia's remarriage within a couple of years provided more security for the family.

Bullen Saward Bullard House
Sherborn Massachusetts
Photo taken 1999
(probably the home built by Ephaim and Grace Bullen)
At 16 Grace married Ephraim Bullen. They built their home on a beautiful hill overlooking rolling meadows and woods on Brush Hill Road at Sherborn, MA. At 17 she gave birth to daughter Mary. Sons Ephraim and John Bullen (my 6X great grandfather) followed over the next few years. Life seemed to be going well for the young family until the birth of her fourth child, a daughter (also named Grace), on 7 August 1689. Complications of childbirth are no doubt the cause of her death just a few days later at only 25 years of age. Baby Grace survived her mother by just 10 days.

At one time it had been reported that her gravestone was preserved in a stone wall in Sherborn, MA and read:  "Here lies Ye Body/ of Grace/ Bullen - Who/ Died August 11th/ 1689 in Ye 26th Year of Her/ Age." When we visited Sherborn in 1999, the local historian said she had been unable to locate this stone, but that it was probably located at the Brush Hill Road property.

The satisfaction of making this early discovery of Grace's family can largely be blamed for my ongoing obsession with family history.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Isaac Barton (1781-1857) (52 Ancestors 2020 Week 6) Theme: "Same Name"

My ancestor Isaac Barton (1781-1857) is one of many men carrying that name. Needless to say, this has caused much confusion to the descendants of all the Isaac Bartons. Many of the Isaac Bartons who turn up in a Google search of the name came from County Clare, Ireland.  I do not know where my ancestral line originated, but will focus mainly on the Isaac Bartons who lived in the New York state area in the 18th and 19th centuries. Even by limiting the search geographically, almost 500 results appear in an search of the name Isaac Barton in New York.

Naming patterns in the past often resulted in many descendants being named for a father or grandfather or great grandfather. To avoid confusion in this story, I will call my 4X great grandfather born 1781 "our Isaac" and describe his life first before listing just a few of the other Isaac Bartons who have found their way into my database.

Our Isaac was born probably in New York State on 3 May 1781. His father's name is uncertain, most likely either Gilbert or Benjamin Barton (and to add to the potential confusion there are many men of both of those same names too!).

Our Isaac married Margaret C. ("Abba") Vought on 23 April 1804 in Yorktown,Westchester, New York. (My story about Abba's estate inventory including several of her quilts can be found through this link.) Their children included one son Jered ("Jerry") Barton (1804-1886), and daughters Sarah Ann (1809-1875), Catherine (1812-1880, my 3X great grandmother who married Stephen Wescott), Abby Jane (1819-1899) and Mary Matilda (1820-1903).

Census records have him in Butler, Wayne County, New York in 1830, and in Huron, Wayne County, New York in 1850. Huron is bordered on the north by Lake Ontario.

Location of Huron, NY
Google Earth Image
Our Isaac died in Huron, NY on 24 June 1857 at age 76 and is buried in Huron Evergreen Cemetery, near wife Margaret who died just a couple of years later.

Stone for Isaac Barton
Photo Courtesy Robert Byrnes on Find a Grave website

Some other Isaac Bartons:

  1. Isaac Barton (1833-1855) was the son of Jered Barton and grandson of my Isaac. He lived his life in Wayne County, NY and died there at only about 22 years of age. 
  2. Isaac Barton (c.1730-1800), a son of Roger and Elizabeth Barton, lived and died in Westchester County, NY.
  3. Isaac P. Barton (1760-1834) was the son of Isaac Barton #2 above. He also lived in New York.
  4. Isaac Barton (1770-1851), son of yet another Gilbert Barton, was born in New York but died in Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada. He married Phoebe Vonblack and had a son named Gilbert Barton with her. (This branch of the Barton family seems to be the ancestral line of my paternal cousin Louise; I have been trying, so far unsuccessfully, to link her to my maternal Barton family line. Given the repetition of the names Isaac, Gilbert and Roger in both lines and given the geographic proximity, I remain optimistic about finding a link.)
  5. Isaac Barton (1835-1910) was the grandson of Isaac Barton #4 above. He was born in Hastings County, Ontario, Canada and died in Grand Forks, North Dakota, U.S.A.
  6. Isaac A. Barton (1868-1940) was the great grandson of Isaac Barton #4 above.  He grew up in Hastings County, Ontario and was a cheese maker there before moving to Saskatchewan, where he died and is buried. 
  7. Isaac Barton (1790-?) was the grandson of Isaac Barton #2 above and the son of Roger Barton and Martha Covert. They lived in the Marlboro, New York area. 
  8. Isaac Barton (1876-1877) was the son of Isaac Barton #5 above.
  9. Isaac Barton (1740-1769) of Oxford, MA, married Sarah Covel; they had a son Isaac Barton.
  10. Isaac T. Barton (1816-1833) was the son of David Barton of Duchess County, NY. 

If all these Isaac Bartons haven't made your head spin enough, you may wish to check out my story about John Bullen for another situation of too many men with the same name!

Some Resources:

Buxton, Anna Joan, "Family History of Barton 1559-1993", compiled December 1995, Victoria, British Columbia.

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Mary Wilder (c.1623-1658) (52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks 2020 Week 5) Theme: "So Far Away"

The distance was 3235 miles.

When young Mary Wilder left her home in Shiplake, Oxfordshire, England to migrate to America in 1638, it must have seemed to be "so far away"! Mary, my 8X great grandmother, is just one example of the dozens of my ancestors who crossed the Atlantic from Europe between 1620 and 1867. All no doubt shared a mixture of excitement and apprehension about what life would have in store for them so far away from their places of birth.

Mary was the daughter of Thomas and Martha Wilder of Shiplake, Oxfordshire. The Wilder family had owned Sulham House there for several generations ever since Nicholas Wilder had fought under the Earl of Richmond at the Battle of Bosworth during the War of the Roses; Nicholas was rewarded for his service with this property when the Earl became King Henry VII.

Wilder's Folly at Sulham
View from the south of Wilder's Folly (also known as Nunhide Tower), on Nunhide Hill, Sulham, Berkshire. Built by Henry Wilder in 1769. Sulham House is the white building in the exact centre of the arch.

Wikimedia Commons Photo by BabelStone under Creative Commons Licence. 

After Thomas died in the autumn of 1634, the remaining family made plans to move to America. No doubt they were Puritans who were being persecuted for their religious beliefs in England. Oldest son John who inherited the family estate remained in England, but sons Thomas and Edward and daughter Elizabeth made the journey to America in 1637 followed in 1638 by widow Martha and daughter Mary on the ship Confidence. 

Careful planning was required before making such a voyage. Mary no doubt helped her mother carefully assemble the goods that they packed with them aboard the Confidence.
"Before you come," wrote Rev. Francis Higginson, the first minister at Salem, "be careful to be strongly instructed what things are fittest to bring with you for your more comfortable passage at sea, as also for your husbandry occasions when you come to the land. For when you are once parted with England you shall meete neither markets nor fayres to buy what you want. Therefore be sure to furnish yourselves with things fitting to be had before you come: as meale for bread, malt for drinke, woolen and linnen cloath, and leather for shoes, and all manner of carpenters tools, and a great deale of iron and steele to make nails, and locks for houses, and furniture for ploughs and carts, and glasse for windows, and many other things which were better for you to think of there than to want them here." (Dow, below, p.3 quoting Rev. Francis Higginson, New-Englands Plantation, London, 1630.)
Even so, there were many ships going back and forth between Massachusetts Bay and England in the 1630s, enabling settlers like the Wilders to obtain necessary goods from Europe. 

Martha and Mary settled at Hingham near Edward who had already made his home there. Within a few years Mary married Joseph Underwood (who had arrived in Hingham, MA in 1637 as an indentured servant) and started a family with him in 1645. All of their children were born at Watertown in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. There were 4 daughters and 2 sons, the elder of whom is my 7X great grandfather Joseph Underwood.

Few records are available for female ancestors like Mary. Their lives centered on home, family and church. Homemaking skills were passed on from mothers to daughters. Gardening, food preparation and preservation, cleaning, spinning, weaving, knitting, quilting, sewing, and child rearing would have formed Mary's life in the same way as her peers. Producing a new baby almost predictably every two years meant that she spent much of her short adult life pregnant and breast-feeding her babies. Starting from her six children, the next generation included close to 20 grandchildren and would have expanded to many thousands of descendants over the years. She certainly did her part to populate the new settlement in New England so far from her old home.

Mary died shortly before Christmas in 1658. She was only 35 years of age.


Cutter, William Richard, New England Families, General and Memorial, Volume I, Genealogical Publishing Co. 1996 accessed online at Google books.

Dow, George Francis, Every Day Life in the Massachusetts Bay ColonyFirst Published in Boston, 1935 Reissued in 1967, by Benjamin Blom, Inc. Reprint Edition 1977 by Arno Press Inc. LC# 77-82079 ISBN 0-405-09125-7 Manufactured in the United States of America; accessed online at

Turner, Mary Rose (Wilder) comp., Extracts from the Book of Wilders by Which the Lineage of the R. I. Wilders is Traced to Nicholas Wilder of England, 1485; Springfield, Ohio, 1927. Portions accessed through and also accessible online at

Monday, 20 January 2020

Rudolph Carlyle Anderson (1910-1993) (52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Week 4) Theme: "Close to Home"

We've all tried to keep it a secret. However, after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex chose to spend their Christmas vacation in our area, the secret is out: Victoria, British Columbia, Canada is a wonderful place to visit, and an even better place to call home.

Victoria is home to the British Columbia Legislature
Photograph December 2019

Following my aunt Helen, I thought I was just the second member of my extended Anderson family to make beautiful Victoria home. Turned out I was wrong!

While going through old newspaper clippings from my uncle Bob, I came upon a pair of obituaries for a couple who died in Victoria within days of each other in September of 1993: Rudolph ("Rudy") Carlyle Anderson and his wife Helen Bernice (Morrison) Anderson. Rudolph was my first cousin twice removed. (During the early 1900's the various branches of the Anderson family had dispersed by settling in three different Canadian provinces and several American states, making it less likely for cousins to know one another. Rudy and my grandfather Ingwald Anderson were both grandsons of our Swedish immigrant ancestor Israel Anderson).

Rudy and Helen's obituaries were a wealth of information, the sort genealogists love to encounter. Much of the information in this story comes from these obituaries written lovingly by one or both of their two daughters, Judy and Joan.

Rudy was born in Elm Creek, Manitoba on 4 May 1910 to Carl Gustav Anderson and Marion (Folson) Anderson. He received his M.D. at the University of Manitoba in the middle of the "Dirty Thirties" and began his solo medical practice at a town of some 400 people at God's Lake Gold Mine, Manitoba. He married Helen Bernice Morrison there in in 1937. (Probably they had met in Winnipeg, Manitoba while both were attending university there. She had received her BA in 1934, following a degree of ATCM Piano Teacher and Performer in 1932.) According to her obituary, the couple were "best friends for over 60 years and married 56 years".

Rudy must have enjoyed working and living in mining towns for he next established his solo medical practice at Beren's River Mines, Favourable Lake; then he was a general practitioner at Okiep Copper Ltd. in South Africa.

By 1943, wanting to join the Canadian Army Medical Corp in London, England, he signed up with the British Merchant Navy in Capetown. His surgical service in Europe landed him in England when he was discharged in 1948.

He took post graduate training in orthopedic surgery at Liverpool before returning to Canada. From 1949 to 1952, he was in orthopedic practice in Regina, Saskatchewan (close to home for my own branch of the Andersons).

In the mid 1950s Rudy and Helen made their final move: to Victoria, B.C. Their first listing in the Victoria City Directory is for 1955 where he is listed as an orthopedic surgeon at Suite #701 - 1029 Douglas Street (in the space now occupied by the far less attractive Royal Bank building - an area I walk past several times a week.)

His first Victoria home with wife Helen was at 3062 Oakdowne, but Greater Victoria has so many wonderful neighbourhoods and they made their home in several over the decades:

  • 3020 Valdez Place in Oak Bay
  • 1550 Shasta Place
  • 4142 Tuxedo Drive
  • 4401 Hannah Court
  • Apt. 402 - 2930 Cook Street

Rudy took up the post of Chief of Staff at the beautiful St. Joseph's Hospital in the 1960's. His listings in the City Directories show that he shared an office with several other doctors. In 1968 his office space is at Suite #450 - 1105 Pandora Avenue.

In the early 1970s he was the President of the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons. Rudy retired from medical practice about 1980.

A love of gardening was shared with Helen. He enjoyed curling and history and his daughters in the obituary called him "an armchair politician". The couple were obviously very active in the community; Helen's obituary mentions her participation in the University of Victoria Women's Club Philosophy Group and her presidency of the Women's Auxiliary of the Victoria Art Gallery. Her hobbies included weaving, painting and music. The couple loved to entertain and I'm sure their family and friends were well entertained by them.

Rudy died 15 September 1993 of cancer. Four days later, Helen followed. She had suffered for years from a progressive muscle disease (IBM) and eye problems, but it appears that, in the end, she died of a broken heart after losing her husband and best friend. Their ashes were scattered at Royal Oak Burial Park in Victoria.

Sadly, since I didn't move to Victoria until 2001, my path never had a chance to cross that of Rudy and Helen. So close and yet so far!


Victoria Times Colonist Newspaper, obituaries of Rudolph Carlyle Anderson and Helen (nee Morrison) Anderson, September 1993.

Greater Victoria City Directories 1955-1993: For the year 1955 on the Vancouver Public Library website and for subsequent years in the Local History Room at the Greater Victoria Public Library

McCalls Funeral Home, Victoria BC (email to the author dated 6 January 2020)

Monday, 13 January 2020

Sigurd Bjørnsen Bonde Gulsvik (1412-1482) (52 Ancestors 2020 Week 3) Theme: "Long Line"

It remains a mystery how my father was able to connect with someone in Norway in the area where his mother's ancestral line originated. In the spring of 1997, Dad received a package of information from a man named Tom Larsen in Oslo, Norway. Dad was delighted to see the long line of his maternal ancestors going all the way back 16 generations from his mother. I still chuckle over his comment at the time that he never knew he had ancestors that far back; I know what he meant though - if you can't name them, they don't really seem to have existed.

Long line of Norwegian Ancestors provided by Tom Larsen

The person on the long list with the earliest birth year is my 14X great grandfather Sigurd Bjørnsen Bonde Gulsvik born at  Flå, Buskerud, Norway about 1412 and died before the 7th of February 1482. (Sigurd is his given name. Bjornsen indicates that his father's given name was Bjørn. Bonde was an honorary name indicating he was highly respected or wealthy and Gulsvik was the farm name.)

Although the church records from Norway are excellent, they do not extend back this far, making it difficult to find sources for accurate information. One is forced to rely on the farm books and other histories. (Unfortunately, I have not yet had access to the actual farm book for Flå in Hallingdal; if anyone reading this story has it and would be willing to send me copies of the relevant pages, I would be very grateful!)

From the available sources posted online by several other generous distant cousins, it seems likely that Sigurd was married three times. It is thought that one wife (possibly Eli Guttormsdatter) was a daughter of Guttorm Rolvsen, a nobleman from Telemark, and that it was through this marriage that Sigurd acquired his significant property at Gulsvik.  He was also married to Unna Vebjørnsdatter who was left widowed by his death. We know that Sigurd had an older brother named Halvard Bjørnsen Ringnes since it was Halvard's sons who eventually inherited the property.

Our family descends through Sigurd's son Gottorm Sigurdson Bonde Gulsvik and then Guttorm's son Helge Guttormson Gulsvik (1484-bef.1569), a lagrettemann (lawyer) in Flå - and so on down the long line to my grandmother Louise Nelson and my father Kenneth Bardahl. (I must admit that I could have saved myself a lot of time and energy had I known earlier how Tom's ahnentafel charting system works for identifying both gender and parentage in long generational lists of names of people such as this one!)

Unfortunately, Dad died unexpectedly very shortly after receiving all this information on his long line of Norwegian ancestors. He never got a chance to write back to Tom Larsen in Norway to thank him and to exchange family history information. At the time, the keen genealogist in the family had definitely been my father Ken, not me. Not knowing the Norwegian language, I put away my copy of the long list for several years until my developing interest in genealogy overcame my trepidation. When it finally occurred to me in the early 2000s to write to Tom at his Oslo address stamped on the material, my letter was returned to me. He was, not surprisingly, no longer at this address.

I noticed immediately that my 2015 DNA test results included a match to a Tom Larsen in Norway. When I wrote and asked if he had once lived at a specific address in Oslo and had sent genealogy information to my father in Canada in 1997, he confirmed that he was indeed the same man. (We are 9th cousins once removed making it a bit of a miracle that we share much common DNA at all!) At that time, Tom provided me with more material on our common Lunde ancestors from Aadalen, Akershus for me to try to translate for use in my database.

Sadly, when I wrote to him again this week to ask if he would mind being named in this story, I learned from his relative that Tom had died of a heart attack at the age of 58. I write this story in his honour with great appreciation for the long line of ancestors he identified for our family. 


Tom's Sources

Østro, Terje, Gards-og Slektshistorie For Flå i Hallingdal, Gulsvikvaldet av Gulsvikfjerdingen (til 1970) II, , 2003, v. II, p. 91, Søgarden/Nedregarden Gulsvik

Glimpses into the Families of Ole Sanderson Oyo, Gro Olsdatter, Rreide Hagen, Svein Olson Shruttegarden posted on website by northshoregirl72 on 23 August 2016

Hallingdal to Amerika selection posted on website on 17 January 2013