26 Aug Tracing our Family History: Norway Edition
Since I was young, I have always been interested in family history and where our family lived before settling in small town Minnesota. I remember asking my grandma and grandpa questions about this all the time and found it absolutely fascinating. Tracing my family roots and visiting the towns they once lived in (and possibly even still do), is a trek I have always wanted to make.
Because both Micah and I have family roots that trace back to Norway, we decided that we had to do a little family history research before our visit. I knew part of my grandpa’s family came to America from Norway. Knowing my grandpa’s family had kept track of their ancestors through a detailed family history book, that’s where we decided to start our search. I found out that my great-great grandpa lived in a small town, Enebakk, about 20 km from Oslo; easy enough, I thought. We could make the trip there on our one day in Oslo.
Next, we called Micah’s grandpa to get some information about his family. Luckily for us, his great aunts were also there. Between the three of them, we happened to gain quite a bit of info. Micah’s grandpa wasn’t sure what the name of the town was–he said he thought it was at the bottom of a mountain, by the water in a valley…for some reason, I immediately started to get a little excited. Micah and I exchanged glances. Could it possibly be the town we were already planning on visiting?! No, I thought, there are tons of mountains and fjords in Norway, it could be anywhere. One of his great aunts chimed in and added, “I think it’s something like Flåm.” After hearing this, I was jumping out of my skin excited! What are the odds, right?! From another phone call, we learned the family farm was actually still around, so now we decided that we should try to find the exact farm they lived on. But, this was the hard part. I searched online everywhere I could think of, and constantly came up empty handed. Knowing that his family name was “Kvitt” in Norway and changed to “Kvidt” upon coming to America (apparently they thought this was an easier spelling, those jokesters), we tried researching with both spellings to no avail. It was when Micah posted a status on his Facebook page, that a very distant relative happened to state that she knew where the house was and even had a picture! Score! Now that we had our information and a picture, we were ready to go.
So what happened–were we able to actually make it to our families old stomping grounds? Yes and no.
I thought it would be easy to make it to see the church where my great great grandpa was born and married in, but the bus schedules to get there were difficult to find and car rentals were way too expensive for the day we needed to book one. As this was the last day of our trip, we were extremely exhausted from all the adventures in Iceland and long train travel the couple of days prior, so unfortunately we didn’t end up making it to Ennebak. I am a little disappointed, but decided we need to try again one day, as more of my family lived just over the border of Sweden not far from Ennebak, so it will all just have to be done on another trip.
As far as Micah’s family–we succeeded with flying colors! Because we knew approximately where the houses were from our picture and google maps, it was now just a matter of walking there. When we arrived at our hotel, the Heimly Pensjonat, Micah asked the receptionist if she knew the Kvidt family–she said no, she wasn’t from the area, but her man, Ragnar, might (they called each other their man and lady, I thought it was cute). She called him and informed us that he knew of the family and he could drive us to their place that evening if we wanted. We gratefully accepted and later that evening he drove us there for a look. According to Ragnar the Kvitts still lived on the same property, but unfortunately the man Ragnar knew was ill, so we weren’t able to say hi; however, we did walk around the area and snapped a few pictures. We also caught a panoramic view of the property the following day from our boat ride on the fjord. The next morning at breakfast Ragnar brought us a copy of our family’s record page that he found in his big history book. That’s hospitality at its finest!
Even though we didn’t get to visit every spot we wanted, it was still fascinating tracing our history and family’s footsteps. I am glad that we made some progress in our journey, and I hope to continue our research in the future!
Have you ever traced your family history?