Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Sigrid (Sarah) Knudsdatter Holien (1815-1891) (52 Ancestors Week 30) Theme: "Challenging"

My great great grandmother was born Sigrid Knudsdatter Holien to Knud Endressen Holien (or Haalien) and Synnev Haagensdtr and baptised on 14 July 1815 at Holien, Vang, Valdres, Oppland, Norway. Whew! It's easy to see why she often went by a simpler "Sarah Holien" after she emigrated to the United States! Her name isn't the only challenging thing about Sigrid. It has been a bit of a challenge sorting out her children.

Using DNA matches, I have recently located two third cousins 1X removed who also descend from Sigrid. One of them has provided me with this image of Sigrid taken later on in her life.

Sigrid (Sarah) Holien

Sigrid married Erick Andersen Elton of Vang, Valdres, Oppland on 28 October 1844 when she was 29 years old and he was 27. This was a bit older than usual for a Norwegian bride at the time. But Sigrid had not simply been sitting around the house quietly becoming an old maid while doing traditional Norwegian embroidery, not by any means. She had produced two sons out of wedlock prior to her marriage - Hans born 26 April 1841 (father was Asbjorn Asbjornsen) and Evan/Henry born 30 June 1843 (father was Evan Evansen). Conveniently for family historians, the Norwegian church records indicate if a child is born to married or unmarried parents and list both mother and father, having a separate final column for naming who reports the illegitimate child - its mother or a friend or church member. Here are the two records for Sigrid's two sons:

Birth of Hans Asbjornsen Holien 1841

Birth of Even Evensen Holien 1843

The Vang stave church where the boys were baptized was the subject of much controversy in the 1840's. For over a decade, the church had been considered too small and in such poor repair that plans were afoot for its demolition. A new log church holding over 200 people was eventually constructed. Norwegian artist Johan Christian Dahl was determined to save the old stave church, but ran into ongoing cavils from the locals. Finally he arranged for an acquaintance, the Prussian Crown Prince, to take it over with plans to move it to Potsdam. In 1842 it was painstakingly taken apart, catalogued, pieces carefully organized, loaded onto a barge and taken to Berlin and finally re-erected at Bruckenberg in Germany, now Karpacz in the mountains of Poland. (The full story can be found at this Wikipedia entry.)  This entire saga occurred during the time that Sigrid was giving birth to babies and shortly before she got married. It would no doubt have been the talk of the parish. One might hope that it gave people something to gossip about other than Sigrid and her two sons born out of wedlock.

An interesting if somewhat surreal view of the ancient Vang Stave church where it is now located in Poland was recently filmed from a drone.

Sigrid went on to produce two daughters after she married Erich. Their daughter Synnev was baptised at Vang on 12 July 1845. A second daughter Anne (my great grandmother, also known as Anna or Annie) was born 14 March 1849 at Vang, Valdres, Oppland. (Anne would marry my great grandfather Hans Bardahl and become the mother of my grandfather John Bardahl. One of the witnesses at the wedding was Anne's half-brother Hans Holien. Until I discovered that he had been Sigrid's son born from an earlier relationship, I had often wondered if he might be related since he used the same farm name.)

Birth/baptism of Synnev (Susan) Ericksdtr Elton 1845

Birth/Baptism of Anne Ericksdtr Elton 1849

Erick sold the Elton farm to his sister Anne Andersdtr Elton and her husband Trond Ivarsson Eltun in the autumn of 1853 and he and Sigrid moved to America in 1854, leaving Bergen on 15 April. The church records (kirkeb√łker) list their departure for "Amerika" on 10 April as follows: Erich Andersen age 38, Sigrid Knudsdr age 39, Sanneva age 11, Anne age 5, Par Asylynsen age 13 (probably Hans Asbjornsen) and Sigrid Anderstr (Erich's sister) age 24. No mention is made of the other son Evan. There are pages and pages of departures for America in these church records throughout the 1850's - it is clearly a time of mass emigration.

On arriving in America, they often used the farm name as their surname Elton (sometimes given as Eltun, Elson, Ellent and other variations), Sigrid sometimes became Sarah but sometimes still retained her Norwegian surname of Holien and daughter Synova became Susan. The Eltons first settled in Iowa but soon moved to Goodhue County, Minnesota, an area populated by a massive number of Norwegian immigrants.

Erick met his death tragically in 1855 by being crushed under a falling tree and is buried at the Old Hauge Cemetery. He was just 38 or 39 years of age and it must have been a devastating loss to Sigrid and the family. No record of another marriage for her has come to light.

By the time of the 1880 US census, Sigrid Holien is listed as the 65 year-old head of the household at Warsaw, Goodhue County, Minnesota. Living with her are 39 year-old son Hans Holien, daughter-in-law Synner Holien (28), granddaughter Dinah (6), nephew Hulbrand Holien (20), grandson Almer Holien (2), nephew Gulbrand Holien (20), Andrew K Anderson (36), Andreas Overby (16) and grandson Endre Holien (10). Only the three youngest Holien grandchildren had been born in Minnesota and all others had been born in Norway.

Sigrid lived to the age of 75 , dying on 28 March 1891. She is buried at the Vang Lutheran Cemetery at Dennison, Goodhue County, Minnesota.

All 3 of the above images from the Vang Lutheran Cemetery, Dennison, Goodhue County, MN
provided courtesy Find A Grave photographer Dave Vangsness


  • Norwegian church records for Vang, Oppland, Norway accessed online at digitalarkiverket
  • Bygdeb√łk for Elton Farm at Vang, Valdres information provided by Anstein.Haugen@adm.aho.no
  • LDS microfilms 125645, 125646, 307321
  • "Eltun-manuskriptet" provided by Mona Dolen to Astrid Jorgenson of Swift Current, Saskatchewan in 1996 (copy held by author)
  • 1880 US census for Warsaw, Goodhue, Minnesota, United States, Sheet number 259A

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Sarah Bardahl (1876-1956) (52 Ancestors Week 29) Theme: "Musical"

This week I'm going out on a limb on my family tree. With "Musical" as this week's theme, the obvious choice is the musical branch of the family found among the descendants of my grand-aunt Sarah Bardahl and her husband Olof Larson. Sarah was the sister of my grandfather John Bardahl and the daughter of my great grandparents Hans Bardahl and Anna Elton.

Sarah Bardahl Larson seated far left in Bardahl family grouping with her parents and siblings
(my grandfather John standing back row right)
Photo  c 1897-1900
Sarah was born 10 November 1876 in Rennville, Minnesota. She moved with her parents to Lien Township and was confirmed by Rev. G. Erdahl in the Lien church. Three days after her 20th birthday she married Olof Larson who was employed by the International Harvester Company for much of his life. Sarah and Olof were active in the Olivet Lutheran Church where he was president of the board of trustees, superintendent of the Sunday school, a member of the choir and instructor of the Bible class. (After his death, his contributions to the church were recognized by dedication of a beautiful memorial window in his name.) In addition to singing in the church choir, Olof also led the Barrett Silver Cornet Band in which he played 1st Bb Solo Cornet. The band met twice a week on Tuesday and Saturday evenings and the local paper "The Breeze" described them as "proficient musicians, pleasant and jolly". It isn't known if Sarah had any particular musical ability or interests, but her obituary said that "the Larson home radiated happiness". Both Olof and Sarah are buried in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery at Barrett, Grant County, Minnesota.

Children of Sarah and Olof

Sarah and Olof had three children: two daughters, Hilma b. 1897 and Florence b. 1902 and one son Einar Willard b. 1914.

1. Hilma played piano. She moved with her family to Valley City ND when she was 12. She worked at a bank in Valley City, graduated from high school there and then graduated from the music department of the state normal school. She married William Jennings Bryan Clark 13 July 1919 and moved with her husband to Grand Forks ND in 1924. They had 4 daughters (more about them later).

2. Florence, like her sister, graduated from high school in Valley City. She attended the Fargo Conservatory of Music and then taught violin at Wesley College at the University of North Dakota. She was a member of Delta Zeta sorority and Sigma Alpha Iota, a national musical sorority, the PEO Monday Music Club and Musicana Society of Aberdeen and the Thursday Music Club at Grand Forks. She married Professor Merritt Johnson 3 August 1929. The couple had no children.

3. Willard married Margaret Saunders in Fargo, ND in 1940. They had two children.

Sarah and Olof's Granddaughters

The 4 daughters of Hilma and William Jennings Bryan Clark seem to have inherited the "music" gene, or perhaps it was more a case of a mother pushing her daughters into a musical career. It is said that Hilma "trained her daughters in music". The four girls were born between 1920 and 1926 in North Dakota and were named Jean Harriett Clark, Ann Elton Clark, Margaret Louise Clark and Mary Elizabeth Clark. As youngsters, they were known as the "Clark Kiddies" and were the official mascots of the Grand Forks American Legion drum and bugle corps. In October of 1929 they represented North Dakota at an elaborate vaudeville program in Louisville to which each state contributed one act. The following month Hilma died tragically after a brief illness at the age of just 32, leaving William a widower with four daughters aged 3 to 9. He remarried in 1934 to Rosella Buckley and had two additional daughters, Judy and Susan.

Hilma's daughters continued their music careers as they grew up, at one time joining Ran Wilde's band in Nicollet, Minnesota, singing under contract with USO and finally moving up to their billing with Tommy Dorsey's band as "The Sentimentalists". Dorsey hired them on the spot after an audition in their West 45th Street apartment in New York. He had had problems with his previous girl singer group and insisted on renaming the Clark Sisters as The Sentimentalists and retaining all rights to that name, an arrangement that was to cause the girls no end of grief in future years. Among their best known songs with Dorsey are "On The Sunny Side of the Street" and "Chicago". (If you click on these links to go to their songs on YouTube, you will find many other songs there in which they are featured. In some cases, the vocals don't begin until well into the piece, so be patient. You will also find their pictures there, but this is long before the era of the music video so don't expect any live performances.)

Not surprisingly, the girls dated and married musicians. Jean married Vernon ("Derf") Friley who played trombone for such notables as Duke Ellington's band. Ann married Leo Quercio, a saxophone player and five years later married Howard ("Pete") Terry, a woodwind player who was a member of the NBC orchestra and played for television's "Laugh-In" and "Dean Martin's Comedy Hour". Margaret ("Peggy") married Wilbur ("Willie") Schwartz who played lead clarinet with the Glenn Miller orchestra. Mary married Bruce Darwin Branson, a saxophonist in the Tommy Dorsey orchestra. As the sisters started to raise their families, the lifestyle that came with being big band singers must have lost some appeal. Not being able to use their connection or name from Tommy Dorsey, most carried on singing as individuals in movie and film work throughout the 1950's and 60's. Ann, for example, sang for the Andy Williams and Carol Burnett television shows. Peggy and Jean were kept busy as studio singers for many years.

Sarah's Great Grandchildren

Sarah has no doubt dozens of descendants across America, but with the music theme this week, I will focus on just the three children of Peggy and Willie Schwartz who have gone on to have highly successful careers in the music industry.

Nan Louise Schwartz is a music composer with dozens of television and movie credits, Emmy nominations and a 2014 Grammy award for her arrangement of Natalie Cole's "Here's That Rainy Day". She is well known for her film work including "Argo", "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part I".

Karen Ellen Schwartz is a singer with numerous musical credits and also at one time did the correspondence for Carol Burnett.

Douglas Wilbur Schwartz is a Grammy award winning mastering engineer who has worked on the music of such diverse musicians as Fishbone, Motley Crue, Los Lobos, Chuck Berry and Billie Holliday.

This branch of the family tree has indeed provided many very talented musicians who have contributed and continue to contribute to the entertainment industry in America. If you have listened to music over the past seven or eight decades or watched television or gone to the movies, you have undoubtedly been touched again and again by their art. Sarah and Olof would no doubt be proud of the achievements of these descendants.

Afterwords: Family Myth Debunked

For years there was a Bardahl family legend that we were related to the singer Peggy Lee. This is absolutely NOT true. It is understandable that wires got crossed with our branch of the family having moved to Canada in the pioneering days of the early 20th century, thereby becoming a bit out of touch from the American cousins. Margaret Clark also went by the name of "Peggy" and the Clark Sisters and Peggy Lee were all born in North Dakota at about the same time and all were singing in the Big Band era. Their paths did in fact cross. But Peggy Lee (born Norma Egstrom) had a very unhappy childhood and we are definitely NOT part of her Egstrom family. 


  • Cousin Roger Gordon compiled the family tree for Sarah's family and provided information and copies of newspaper articles about various members of her family. (As always, any errors in this story are mine alone and I would appreciate receiving notice of any necessary corrections.)
  • Clark Sister Website accessed online 13 July 2015 (Go here for some wonderful photos of the 4 sisters including one of the 3 oldest as the "Clark Kiddies".)
  • Wikipedia article for The Sentimentalists
  • Websites for Douglas, Pam and Karen Schwartz accessible through the hyperlinks given above

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Reverend Ralph Cudworth (1572-1624) (52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #28) Theme: "Road Trip"

It was our best road trip ever! In June of 1998 my English/Canadian husband Graham graciously volunteered to drive my mother, my sister Sandy and me around England in search of some of our roots. He kept telling his friends that all he needed to take along was a roll of duct tape, but upon our return, we were able to assure everyone that we hadn't had to use it on him even once!

Route taken on our 1998 Road Trip of England
Aller, Somerset is located lower left

My mother's maternal line includes numerous New England families dating from the time of the Mayflower and the immediately following decades. Most were Puritans who had come to America seeking religious freedom. Some of those family lines were easily traced back to locations in England. Others remain elusive to this date.

We planned our road trip to include visits to tourist sites such as Stonehenge, numerous cathedrals and a castle or two as well as visits to members of Graham's welcoming English family. Having learned to drive in England before emigrating to Canada, Graham was completely comfortable driving on the "wrong" side of the road and maneuvering through narrow winding roads.

We saw so many family locations that it is difficult to choose just one to write about this week and I have randomly selected one of the first places we visited - Aller, Somerset. Aller was associated with my 9th great grandfather Ralph (sometimes Rauf or Rad) Cudworth, father of my immigrant ancestor General James Cudworth.

Church at Aller, Somerset

Although Ralph had been born in Werneth, Lancashire in 1572 after the death of his father Rauf earlier that same year, his primary connections are to Cambridge University, the court of King James I and the church at Aller, Somerset. He was considered a brilliant scholar, entering Cambridge at the age of 16 and receiving a BA in 1592, MA in 1596, BD (Oxford) 1610 and DD in 1619. He was a Fellow at Emmanuel College, Cambridge and was also minister at St. Andrew's.

He was presented as the Vicar of Coggeshall, Essex on 4 April 1604 upon the deprivation of the previous vicar, a man named Thomas Stoughton.   Ralph was to remain Vicar at Coggeshall until he resigned that post on 8 March 1607. (Had we known of the Coggeshall connection to Ralph, we would have made a point of visiting it later in our road trip when we drove past within 5 miles. A visit there will have to await the next road trip!)

It was his long-time association with Emmanuel College, Cambridge that led to his being awarded his living as rector in Aller in 1609.

Rectors of Aller - Ralph Cudworth STB (Bachelor of Sacred Theology), third from bottom

A prestigious appointment occurred in 1603 when King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England after the death of Queen Elizabeth I. Through friends who had contacts at court, Ralph became chaplain to the King. This is the same King James who authorized the new translation of the Bible (1604-1611) that is generally known as the "King James Version". Although not credited as being directly involved in the translation, one might suppose that as King's chaplain, Ralph would have been in the inner circle of religious leaders involved in the project.

But Ralph was not only concerned with matters theological. It was in the King's household that he met Mary Machel, nurse to Prince Henry. Ralph and Mary were married in 1611. Their children included my 8th great grandfather James Cudworth (born about 1612) and Ralph Cudworth (born 1617).

1611 Marriage Record for Ralph and Mary highlighted in yellow

Ralph retained his position at Aller until his death in 1624. He would have been just in his early 50's and left his widow Mary with quite young children. His home base at Aller made a scenic stop on our road trip between Taunton and Wells.

Google Earth map of Somerset, England showing location of Aller


In the list of rectors of Aller (see above) the person who followed Ralph Cudworth at Aller was a man named John Stoughton. It isn't known for sure whether John and Thomas Stoughton (who had been deprived at Coggeshall) were related, but it is probable. It is also interesting to note that after the death of Ralph Cudworth in 1624, his widow Mary married John Stoughton who thereby stepped into Ralph's shoes both in the church and at home! There is evidence that he had a close relationship as step-father to Ralph's sons. By 1635, Dr John Stoughton was living in Aldermanbury in London and was found to be supportive of the Puritans in New England. Dr Stoughton was taken into custody and his study sealed, but in a few days he was returned in the Earl of Holland's coach. We know that Stoughton's stepson James Cudworth was indeed a New England Puritan and it isn't surprising that the family remaining in England could have entertained Puritan sympathies while being an integral part of the established English Protestant church.

Stained Glass Window at Aller Church


  • "Cambridge University Alumni 1261-1900" accessed 21 November 2012 via AncestryLibrary.com
  • Beaumont, George Frederick, "A History of Coggeshall in Essex: With an Account of its Church", 1890 accessed 11 July 2015 at https://books.google.ca
  • "The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 21"
  • Cudworth, Dan, "An Autobiography of the Life of Daniel Boyden Cudwoth, Jr.", 1993 (copy accessed 1999 in the Scituate Historical Library)
  • Yates Publishing, U.S and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004), Source Number 2800.000; Source type: Electronic Database; Number of Pages 1, Submitter Code: DH1

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Jonas Fairbanks (1625-1676) Wearing Great Boots Contrary to the Law (52 Ancestors Week 27) Theme: "Independence"

Having already written about two ancestors who fought for American independence (see John Bullen and Henry Vought stories), this week's suggested theme of "Independence" will be largely ignored as I strike off on my own independent path. My 8X great grandfather Jonas Fairbanks also showed an independent streak.

Jonas was the third son of immigrants Jonathan Fairbanks and his wife Grace Smith. He was born early in 1625 and baptised at Halifax, Yorkshire, England on 06 March 1625. His early years were probably comfortable ones with his father a reasonably well-off wool merchant. Most likely his parents were religious dissidents and that may well have been the cause of their move to New England when Jonas was still a boy.

Growing up in the Fairbanks House at Dedham, Massachusetts, must have been quite a happy time for Jonas and his 7 siblings. This was a new town and there would have been many other children with whom to play. No doubt the education that he had started to receive in England would have been continued in the new land and he would have received as good an education as was available in Dedham at the time. A church and a school were always established along with the settlement of all these New England towns.

Jonas's boyhood home in Dedham, Massachusetts

One of the stories that I cherish about Jonas involves his running afoul of the sumptuary laws when he was about 22 years old. Although he was making his way as both a carpenter and a farmer, he was fined a few shillings for wearing great boots before his estate amounted to more than 200 pounds. I love the image of young Jonas strutting about Dedham in his great boots! Apparently he got off without paying the fine because the law wasn't actually in effect at the time he was seen wearing the boots. (Presumably he hid them away in Fairbanks House until his estate was large enough to permit him to legally wear them again.)

By the time Jonas entered manhood and planned to start his own life with his own family, most of the lands around Dedham had been claimed and there was a push for expansion farther into the wilderness. Jonas moved to western Massachusetts as one of the original settlers of Lancaster in 1657. It has been said that he was a strong man, both in his mental and physical abilities.

He subscribed to the Lancaster town laws and orders on the 7th day of the 2nd month of 1658/59. Shortly after arriving in Lancaster, Jonas married Lydia Prescott who had moved there with her parents John Prescott and Mary Platts. Lydia had been born in Watertown, MA on 15 August 1641 and would have been just under 17 years of age when she married Jonas on 28 May 1658. Jonas would have been 23. This was the first marriage to occur in Lancaster. The young couple would go on to have numerous children including Mary, Joshua, Grace (my 7X great grandmother, born 15 November 1663 in Dedham), Jonathan, Hazadiah, Jabez and Jonas Jr.

The westward migration of settlers had not gone unnoticed by the native population. At first friendly and welcoming, they must have become concerned when it became apparent that the newcomers were expanding their communities farther into traditional Wampanoag territory. In 1675, when three American Indians were hanged in Plymouth Colony for the murder of a Christian member of his Wampanoag tribe, Chief Metacom (more commonly known by his English name King Philip) launched assaults on more than half the towns in New England. This went on until 1678 and is generally called "King Philip's War". Considering the population at the time, it could well be considered the deadliest war during the European settlement of North America. The colonial population was decimated with about 10% of the men killed, a dozen towns destroyed, crops ruined, the economy left in tatters.

Jonas Fairbanks was a victim of the Indian massacre at Lancaster of 10 February 1676 along with his 15 year-old son Joshua. It is not known where they are buried, but many of the Fairbanks and Prescott family members are buried in the beautifully mysterious Old Burying Ground at Lancaster, Massachusetts.

Old Burying Ground at Lancaster; memorial to Jonas's father-in-law John Prescott on far left

Another Jonas Fairbanks buried at Lancaster


  • Clemens, William Montgomery, "Marriage Records Before 1699", Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1967
  • Fairbanks, Jonathan Leo, "An Old Family Burial Site" accessed 21 June 2015 at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~walkersj/Jonathanfairbanks1666.html
  • Fairbanks, Lorenzo Sayles, "Genealogy of the Fairbanks Family in America 1633-1897", Fairbanks Family in America, Incorporated, 1991 based on an edition printed for the author by the American Printing and Engraving Company, 1897
  • Nourse, Henry, "Birth, Marriage and Death Register, Church Records and Epitaphs of Lancaster, Massachusetts 1643-1850", Lancaster 1890
  • Nourse, Henry, "Early Records of Lancaster 1643-1725", Lancaster 1884