The ancestry of A.K. Hanson begins entirely in Norway. There are 21 counties (like American states) in Norway, and within each county are administrative districts named municipalities. Our grandfather, Andrew Karl (A.K. for short) was born in Sogn Og Fjordane County, and in the Aurland district. Sognefjord is the longest fjord in Europe, fully 126 miles in length and up to 4,290 feet deep. Several side fjords connect to this primary fjord, creating an extensive waterway and making it a spectacular tourist attraction featuring high snow-capped peaks, steep cliffs, waterfalls, and rustic villages within the valleys. Cruise ships can navigate the entire length of the fjord.
But as you look at the landscape, 70% of Norway’s land is uninhabitable! And the land that is marginally useable for agriculture is often on a steep and rocky slope. Thus, farming was a subsistence enterprise, but was the occupation chosen by A.K.’s ancestors. At that time, it was typical for a couple to have 5-8 children or more. It was also the custom that only the oldest son was granted the farm where he was born, and if any of the daughters didn’t marry one of the fortunate “elder sons” from another family, the career possibilities were very limited. Fishing and forestry were often jobs for the sons that were not the eldest, and these sons would then marry the daughters yet available. Thus, the great migration from Norway to America that began in 1825 is an important part of our A.K. Hanson Family history, and probably was caused in part by overpopulation, and the hope to have a better life in another more agricultural area.
This genealogy and family history begins about 1800 in Norway with a study of the fraternal grandparents of Ole Andreas Kjellsen (known hereafter as “A.K.” for his American name of Andrew Karl). They are:
Hans Kieldsen (father) baptized on February 10th, 1792, while his parents resided in Flåm. Kari Heljesdatter (mother) baptized February 25th, 1798, while her parents lived in Breisnes.
The parents were married on June 26th, 1821, in Undredal Church. During the next twenty years, nine children were born to them on the farm in Breisnes, and are listed below.
Barbra B. 1822 Ragnild B. 1826 Ingebor B. 1829 Born and died the same year Kiel (Kjell, or Kjeld) B. October 3rd, 1830This is A.K.’s father Ove Andreas B. 1844
Similarly, A.K.’s maternal grandparents were:
Jens Larsen (father) born on October 25th, 1802, while his parents lived in Undredal. Ingeborg Larsdatter (mother) baptized on January 6th, 1803, while her parents lived in Stondal.
The parents married on April 13th, 1830. Over the next 20 years, eight children were born to them:
Ole B. 1836 Died young because another later child was named Ole. Jensina B. January 6th, 1844This is A.K’s mother
It is noted that Jens and Ingeborg and the children above moved to the Ramsøy Farm from Bakka in 1849. The move was just across the narrow Nærøy Fjord (or around the end of it).
Kiel (Kjell) and Jensina were married on June 2nd, 1862. There was a large difference in ages – Kiel age 30, Jensina age 18. It appears that Kiel moved to the farm in Ramsøy because the children born to them in Norway list Ramsøy as their birthplace. The Norway-born children are:
Ole Andreas B. January 22nd, 1865 This is A.K. – Andrew Karl in America Hans B. October 27th, 1866 Ole B. June 27th, 1868 A sad note here - Ole had died August 27th, 1868.
There was a census in Norway in 1865 that documented Kjeld and Jensina’s family in Ramsøy. The children listed are Jens (age 4), and Ole Andreas (age 1). Hans and Ole had not yet been born when this census was recorded. Of note were their livestock and fields: 2 horses, 8 cattle, 13 sheep, and 1 pig, plus 3 ½ units of mixed grain, and 4 units of potatoes. I am not sure of the field size units, but the farm appears to be quite limited in size.
In early 1869, the family said goodbye to their congregation to begin the journey to America. A documented boarding of the Ship Alma is given as April 27, 1869, and included a total of 234 passengers. Included in the passenger list are Kjell and Jensina, and their three sons, Jens, Andreas (A.K.), and Hans (Nos. 3-7 on the passenger list).
Also aboard ship were Kjell’s sister, Ingeborg, her husband Lars Olsen, and children Ole (age 9) and Kari (age 2) (passengers Nos. 63-66). In addition, on board the same ship, were Jensina’s sisters, Kari Oline Jensdatter (Passenger 51) and Marthe Jensdatter Kvam (Passenger 53). The crossing by sailing ship was totally dependent on the wind and could take up to 100 days – but the average was 53 days! In this case, crossing took only 35 days. Of note is that Jensina was pregnant during the crossing, and daughter Ingeborg was born September 29, 1869. Sailing on rough seas may have been an unpleasant voyage for a pregnant Jensina?