Sunday, February 2, 2014

Andreas and Anne Larsen of Hundhammer

I had scanned hundreds of photos that evening, most of them with no identification, and most so small it was hard to see much without scanning.  My eyes were tired.  My back was aching.  I had two piles for the completed photos - the Unknown pile and the Known pile, depending on what, if anything, was written on them.  The Unknown pile was heaping, and I feared most of the little photos in the old trunk would end up there.  My grandmother had moved to another town, and did not want these mystery photos, nor did she want to go through them.  My father, knowing my affinity for family history, grabbed the beat up rusted old trunk from her pile of things to go to the trash. 

I scanned the little photo of a headstone, and as the scan came up on the screen, I had the photo halfway to the Unknown pile.  I did a quick look at the name, and was ready to move on when something stopped me.

I was pretty sure I would not know most of the people in those photos.   My grandmother, Lisa, was technically my step-grandmother, and these photos were hers. She married my grandfather, a widower in the United States, when she was 50 years old and had come here from Norway at that time.  Much of her life had been in Norway with her own friends and family, and I didn't know any of them.  After hours of scanning, this little epiphany was enough to make me want to quit wasting my time and go to bed.

And then I scanned the headstone photo.

Lisa had grown up on the Klungseth farm next to my grandfather's family's farm at Hundhammer.  As a child she played with my grandfather and his siblings.  And she had known my great-grandparents.  Their names, she had told me, were Andreas and Anne Larsen.

I nearly fell off my chair when I saw that the headstone photo was that of my great grandparents.  I knew so little about them, and here they were, right in front of me.

From that point on, I learned more about them rather quickly.  Andreas was a farmer, and the area where they lived was exceptional for fishing, so he built a boarding house to rent beds to fishermen, and did a brisk business.  Anne took care of the house and the animals.  Lisa told me she was an incredible storyteller, and would entertain the children with her tales.

Then, an uncle produced a photo of them, and cousins in Norway that I had met had photos to share as well.

Andreas and Anne Larsen

Andreas and Anne, with my grandfather Adolph, who was the baby of the family.  Photo courtesy of Ivar Wiik.

Their farm at Hundhammer.  Photo courtesy of Tove Fagerhøi.

Steine Kirke, their church and cemetery, is just minutes from their farm.  Photo courtesy of Iren S. Flasnes.

I'm so glad I did not give up on all those tiny photos.  There were a few other gems hidden amongst the unknown photos as well, but none like the headstone photo.

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