Welte Family History Research

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For over 40 years, I have been researching my family history. Now that I'm retired, I can devote more time and effort into more research, compilation, and organization of that work! Over the past 12 years, I have been very fortunate in teaching genealogy classes, along with my computer experience, at Blackhawk Technical College. I've also created a business - "Field of Genes" - a "Ride-N-Seek" experience to help other families find their own ancestors.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

52 Ancestors: #6 Citing Important Events and Serendipity

It is very important that as you find more names and dates in records, you need to reference where you found them. Not only do you want credibility and proof attached to each find, but you also want the next person to pick up where you left off and be able to find the same thing you did. As I pore through old parish registers from various parishes in Norway, the Norwegian words get to look familiar so I can put the Norwegian-English dictionary down for a bit.

There are many resources online that make it a lot easier to find what you are looking for. However, if you don’t cite where you found them, they will be lost forever. When others want to know more about certain details, it is easier if you can show valid evidence of where you found your facts. You will be more accurate with your continued research and have less conflicting data.

When I was going through the Norwegian “bygdeboks” (farm books) about 38 years ago, I spent a week going through every page, every day, but it was a wealth of information for each region of Norway. For those of us who have Norwegian ancestors, these books not only give us a flavor of the life back then with listings of occupations included next to each name, but it also showed lines going back, it seemed into oblivion, for each family. They were all written in Norwegian, but I was so happy to have found these books that I didn’t care.

I didn’t even know these books existed until I went to Norway and had the privilege of sitting down with my dad’s 2nd cousin, Arvid, which would make him my 2nd cousin 1x removed, and he pulled a book out from one of his cabinets in the living room. He sat down next to me and explained that our ancestors’ names, occupations, and other local area history of the Aust-Agder and Holt regions, where our ancestors lived and died, were in this farm book. He told me that I probably could get the same book in local historical societies or university libraries in the United States.

In this book, there were also pictures of area industries and large farms and estates. He showed me a picture of a large estate of the Aall family who owned the Nes Verk iron works. Then he motioned with his arm toward the window, pointing in the direction of the road, and he said that the estate was not too far away, and that one of our ancestors had worked there as a taxidermist. He tried to explain, in his broken English, who that person was and he pointed to his name in the book. He was Peder Hansen, who is my 2nd great grandfather on my dad’s side, and I could just feel that I was close to really discovering who my ancestors were and what they did in Norway. I remembered when my dad came off the plane, walking down the steps from the airplane door, he looked over at me and said, “We’re home!” and I can still see his smiling face in the afternoon sunshine as he went inside the airport. I was lucky enough to be able to travel with my parents to Norway on that July day in 1983.

I do remember that I had written each detail of our trip to Norway because I knew that my memory would fade over time, and that it would come in handy one day. In my many boxes of papers, books, and pictures, I just came across a 6-year period of notes 40 years ago that I had written down, but had forgotten about, detail by detail, of important events happening at the time. I also found lists of notes for pictures that I had taken back then, over almost the same period of time. We didn’t have Facebook to share pictures, or Flickr or Picasa, to have immediate sharing of memories with others.


Unknown said...

When I was in Norway a few years ago I learned about the 'bygdeboks' and when I returned home was able to find the farm book for the twon of Skjold on line. I typed the info into google translate and learned how the Skjold property came into my Norway family.....through a foster daughter who married my great, great grandfather in 1835. It was badly translated but I got the gist and it was a big find for my family story.

dgfamilyhistorian said...

I'm glad that you were able to find this treasure in your family research. It's funny how things like that just sort of appear at the strangest time! Sometimes my biggest finds come through the back door!