Great-grandfather comes home after 102 years
Per Ivar Somby (46) is happy. He suddenly received a text message from a completely unknown woman in Oslo, who has a drawing of his great-grandfather Aslak Larsen Somby from 1909.
“I think the comment that is written on the drawing is funny: ‘Five kroner required for the drawing!!’ My great-grandfather had a good business sense,” said Per Ivar Somby to NRK.no.
For over 100 years, the drawing of Aslak Larsen Somby hung on a wall in the home of the descendants of Albert von Hanno (1862-1938) in Oslo.
Somby was one of the Sami people who was hired by the United States in 1894 to teach the Inuits in Alaska about reindeer.
It was von Hanno who drew “Kautokeino lap Aslak Solmi, who has been in Alaska” June 24, 1909. On the back of the drawing, he has changed the name to “Aslak Sambi.”
“It feels like the circle is closed. In a way, Aslak is back where he came from, since I made contact with one of his descendants,” says the woman who currently owns the drawing.
The 66-year-old from Oslo wishes to remain anonymous, but says it’s nice that the story of the drawing will be known. She found the name of the great-grandson, Per Ivar Somby, online.
“I’ve heard a lot about the drawing many times over the years. It has always hung on the wall in the living room with my mother-in-law. I have always wondered who he really was. When I inherited the image through my husband, I began to investigate, and that was how I came into contact with Per Ivar,” said the 66-year-old to NRK.no.
She says she has always thought that the family of Aslak Somby should have knowledge of drawing.
Per Ivar Somby is originally from Alta, but now lives and works in Tromsø.
“I was at first a little unsure if it was actually my great-grandfather, but as it was confirmed that he had been in Alaska, I was sure,” he says.
Albert von Hanno was a medical doctor in Alta at the time he signed the picture. He was the son of architect Wilhelm von Hanno, who has built a number of buildings at Akershus Fortress.
“He was also in Newfoundland with my grandfather in 1907-1909. Probably he was drawn during this journey,” says Per Ivar NRK.no.
The great-grandson is pleased to have obtained a good photograph of the drawing.
“This is a drawing made by someone in their family, and therefore it is natural that it gets taken care of by them. I think it is in good hands where it is now,” says Somby.
The woman who currently owns the drawing will retain the original.
“It’s nice for the family to have something that Albert von Hanno made while he was in Alta. However, I am very happy that Aslak’s descendants now know about it,” she says.
She also thinks the demand for payment is quite funny.
“My mother-in-law remarked often about that. “But then, of course, he had been in America,” she would say. In 1909, five kroner was a lot of money, I would think,” she says.
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