A trunk from Hafslo
A monthly column putting people in touch with their Norwegian roots
with Liv Marit Haakenstad
When I was visiting Wisconsin in March 2018, I was introduced to Darlene Bankes, who had some pictures of a rosemaled trunk. The text on the trunk read “Engebrigt Peder S. Sønnesund, 1843.” Bankes wanted to find out “Who is Engebrigt and how did the trunk end up in my family?”
There is only one Sønnesund farm in Norway, located in Hafslo, Sogn og Fjordane. The farm name is spelled Sønnesund or Sønnesyn in the sources, but today it is written Sønnesyn. While researching, we found two people who lived at Sønnesyn with the name Engebrigt (also written Ingebrigt) Pedersen. Both of them emigrated to Wisconsin. In the 1801 census, there was a 4-year-old boy living on the farm, however, Ingebrigt Pedersen spent most of his years growing up on the Kvam farm before leaving for America. He did not use the name Sønnesyn, so we knew he was not the person we were searching for.
About 20 years after the first Ingebrigt, on Nov. 22, 1822, another Ingebrigt Pedersen was born at Sønnesyn. He was the son of Peder Iversen Sønnesyn and Anna Christophersdatter. On May 9, 1847, this Ingebrigt Pedersen and his brother, Peder Pedersen (born 1824), left Hafslo and headed to America with three other young men. It would be a very large speculation on our part to try to understand why the 1843 date was painted on the trunk because we could not find any documented important life event for Ingebrigt in that year. Perhaps he was going to leave for America because he turned 21 in that year, but for any number of reasons was delayed until his brother and friends could also make the journey.
According to Lars Øyane, who wrote the Bygdebok for Luster, a woman named Maria, from Dokken, a part of the Lie farm in Reinli, Sør-Aurdal, emigrated with her parents in 1852. Three years later, Mary Trondson, the name she used in America, married Ingebrigt Pedersen Sønnesøn in Black Earth, Dane County, Wis. Our research shows they had five children, all born in Crawford County, Wis., between 1855 and 1863. Øyane goes on: “Ingebrigt and Mary Peterson settled as farmers in Seneca Township, Crawford County, Wis., where Mary died July 2, 1866. Ingebrigt sold the farm in 1867 and remarried on February 25, 1868, in Vernon County, Wis., to the widow Karen Mathea Christiansdotter. Karen was born in 1823 in Drøbak, Akershus, Norway, and was using the name Karen Anderson when they married. Ingebrigt and Karen Peterson settled in Harmony Township, Vernon County, Wisc., but divorced in 1875. Karen Anderson was a midwife and moved in with her father in Jefferson Township, Vernon County, Wis., after the divorce. Ingebrigt Peterson lived for some time in Viroqua, Vernon County, Wis., but moved in with his oldest daughter in Henden Township, Miner County, S.D., about 1888. Ingebrigt Peterson died there on Feb. 16, 1889.”
Our research found that in another part of Sogn og Fjordane, Norway, Jacob Larsen Kvamme, Darlene Bankes’s great-grandfather, was born in 1846 at Tønjum, Borgund. He was christened in the famous Borgund Stave Church on March 15, 1846, and married Theodora Olufine Selsing from Tjugum in Sogn og Fjordane in 1869. They came to Wisconsin in 1871 and settled in Utica, Crawford County, Wis., according to the 1880 census. By 1900, and still in 1910, Jacob (now Quamme) had moved to Fountain, Juneau County, Wis. Jacob died in 1935.
As you can see, we did a lot of research to find out something but could not find a relationship, by birth or marriage, between Jacob Larsen Kvamme and Ingebrigt Pedersen Sønnesøn. Their only connection is that Ingebrigt lived in Crawford County until 1867 when he sold the farm, and Jacob moved there in 1871. Jacob was a “song leader and Sunday school teacher at the church in Utica,” according to Bankes, so he knew many people in the community. Again, we must speculate, but it is probable that Ingebrigt Pedersen Sønnesøn sold the trunk when he sold his farm and, somehow, from perhaps one of his many parishioners, Jacob got possession of it.
Want to have your genealogy mystery solved in this column? Current subscribers of The Norwegian American can submit their queries at www.norwegianancestry.com. Haakenstad’s research team will pick one case every month to get free help to find their Norwegian roots. Information from the submissions and their findings will be published here, and a detailed report sent to the person submitting the case. If more people submit questions than we have space to publish, the research team will be available privately to respond to genealogical inquiries for a fee. Be sure to check your email for a response!
Liv Marit Haakenstad has been doing genealogy research for more than 30 years. She is now working on her master’s thesis in non-fiction writing. She has published several books on Norwegian emigration and genealogy, and dozens of articles. She is a frequent contributor to the research staff of the Who Do You Think You Are? television show. Many of her distant relatives immigrated to the United States and Canada, including several who settled in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
This article originally appeared in the June 1, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.