Sigrid Undi Espeseth 1842-1922 b Vik Sogn, Norway
Ida Caroline Kaasa 1877-1957
Edna Sophia Anderson Liffengren 1901-1979
Anderson Family sites in Norway
Craig Harlan Hullinger
June 7-12, 2003
Beth and I visited the principle ancestral communities of the Anderson and Kaasa families of Murdo, South Dakota during June 2003. All of our main ancestral sites are attractive rural towns, on rivers, lakes, or fjords, adjacent to mountains covered with pine trees and meadows. The towns of Vik in Sogn, Leikanger in Sogn, and Seljord in Telemarken are small, well maintained, and proud of their Stave churches that date back to the 1100's.
VIK, SOGN, NORWAY
(Our ancestors from this area include Anderson,
Berdahl, Hove, Limmesand, Reutz, Espeseth, Tistel)
Vik is a lovely town, a small tourist destination, located about ½ way inland on the longest Fjord in Norway on the west coast of Norway northeast of Bergan. The only way to drive to the town is via Highway 13, over a high and desolate road that is closed in the winter. There was still a great deal of snow on the mountains in June. Ferry boats also provide good service back to Bergan and smaller towns north of the Fjord. The ferry boat from Bergan takes about 5 hours. Note the similarity of the town name Vik to Vikings.
The view from high above Vik is awesome, with views across to snow covered mountains, the Fjord, the town, and a major waterfall called "Lady". In the town of Vik two small rivers roar through town. The Sogn Fjord is the longest in Norway, and the glacier across the Fjord from Vik is the largest in Europe. The small harbor contains a few pleasure boats. Most of the fishing boats are gone. We saw porpoises swimming 50 feet off the Vik Shoreline. While we were in Vik we saw a large French cruise ship stay overnight anchored off the town.
The Town of Vik has about 1,400 people. The entire County has about 3,100 people. The town only had about 400 people in 1900. An estimated 4,000 to 6,000 people from Vik Sogn immigrated to America in the 1800's. In 1999 Vik conducted a jubilee in honor of the migration, which began in 1839.
The first person we met at the outskirts of Vik directed us to the Espeseth farm high above the town of Vik on Route 13. I got the directions wrong, and went to the Tistel farm next door. The Tistels are also ancestors of ours. We are descended from the Tistels as follows:
Roland Guttorman Tistel 1778 Great Great Grandfather to Peter Anderson
Kari Rolandsdatter Tistel 1804
Gjertrud Munth Reutz 1827
Eli Berdahl 1854
Peter Anderson 1877
Edna Sophia Anderson 1901
Louise Liffengren Hullinger (I won' tell)
Beth and I met with Kari Marie and Eirik Tistel, 6893 Vik i Sogn, telephone 47 57 6 9 54 79, who operate a dairy farm and tourist cabin operation on Highway 13 about 4 miles south and 1,000 feet above Vik. They were extremely nice, and took us through their private museum that they operate in four old buildings that were part of the Tistel farm. Most of the items were from the Tistels, and some no doubt were owned and handled by our ancestors. The buildings all include sod roofs. The oldest building is from about 1700. The Tistels own a number of books from the family dating back to 1603 and 1647. Most of them are religious books. His museum included numerous interesting items, including a Hardingfele violin from 1780 to 1790 with three strings below four strings. He also had a wooden press to make spoons from cow and goat horns, and a large number of farm and household items.
Most of the Tistels who lived in Sogn immigrated to America. The Tistel's who stayed on the farm eventually died out, and Eirik Tistel assumed the name when he bought the farm (a common practice in Norway, also what our great grandfather Liffengren did). Eirik also noted that the Espeseth farm was adjacent, and the Reutz farm was across the creek. The Espeseth's had also assumed the name when they purchased the Espeseth farm. Our ancestors intermarried among these three nearby families of Tistel, Espeseths, and Reutz. The Tistels (Tisdals) in the US have an association, directed by Bob & Shari Nelson in Baxter, MN at email firstname.lastname@example.org
Eirik and Kara owned several books that present the history of the area. There were several references to and photographs of the historic Tistel farm.
Bygdabok for VIK SOGN I and II , ISBN 82-90576-11-0
with pictures of the farm and a description of the farm and ownership.
Ein Stad Skal Ein Vera 1989 Sogn on Fjord
Eirik and Kari drove Beth and I around the area, and showed us the farms of our numerous ancestors. The Asterisk indicates that we saw the farm:
NAME BIRTH DATE FARM
Kari Rolandsdatter Tistel 1804 *
Sigrid Undi Espeseth 1842 *
Andres Bendicson Undi Espeseth 1813 *
Gjertrud Munth Reutz 1827 in Feios *
Adam Munthe Reutz 1799 *
Keri Hopperstad *
Mons Adersson Helland
Anna Hagen 1815 *
Eli Berdahl 1854
Ingebrikt Berdahl 1816 in Feios
Breta Ingebriktsdatter Berdal
Ole Hohannson Hagen 1765 *
Agatha Ingebritson Hove 1828
Keri Hopperstad *
Anders Per Limmesand Grov 1799
Bendix Stursen Undi 1799
Anders Alvson Nummedal 1697 *
Anna Botolvsdt Skjorvo 1827 *
Morton Edvardson 1732
Per Anderson 1824
We did not see an Anderson farm. It may in the back country of Sogn where we did not find it. The Anderson family seems to have moved among several communities, so their roots are not so deep in Vik. Our genealogy shows Per Anderson born in 1824 in Sogn, which is a large county, not in Vik, which is the largest town in Sogn. His father was Limmesand, and the Anderson name came from his fathers first name, Ander son. He died in Ridgeway, Iowa 1966. We did see some Anderson gravestones in Vik.
The Berdahl farm is shown on a map of Feios, near Vik, as indicated in our genealogy. A large tourist map on the Café / Tourist stop / bus stop map in Vik near the Fjord shows many of our ancestral farms by name on a map.
I looked up the names of our ancestors that came from the Vik area. The Sogn Phonebook covers a very large area, and shows where people live who share our forbears names.
Total names in the Phone book for the region who share our ancestral names include.
Berdahl (Berdal) 10
There are also 8 Berdal's in Luster, a large rural area north of Vik on the other side of the Fjord. There are 21 Espeseth's in Flora, north of Vik towards the coast. There are 4 Espeseths and 24 Hagens in Forde, northwest of Vik.
There are three churches in Vik. The Stave Church is very lovely, and was built around 1150. The Hopperstads own the land on which the Stave Church is located, and are the only people who are allowed to be buried on the church grounds. This is likely where our Hopperstad ancestor is buried. The Stave Church in Morehead, Minnesota is a copy of this church.
There is also a large stone church that dates back to medieval times. The modern church looks like a large frame South Dakota Church.
SELJORD NORWAY (Ancestors Kassa, Venaas)
Food was excellent, and we had to diet for months after the trip to atone for our sins.
The old church was built in 1150. I went to the morning service. I also looked through the graveyard. There were two recent Kassa graves. In much of Europe old grave sites are recycled within about twenty years, so any older graves would have disappeared.
Our Ancestors name from Seljord include:
Jemns Kjetilson Venaas 1742-1831
Guro Steinerdatter 1754
Ole Jenssen Vennas 1787-1854
Margit Thorsdatter Kassa 1789-1854
Jorgen Kassa 1833-1898
We called Olaf Kassa who is the Public Works Director of the County at 35 05 01 97 in Seljord, and by all accounts a friendly and knowledgeable individual, but were not able to locate him. Will try later.(On a previous trip to the area where the Kassa's orignated in Telemarken we saw a woman who looked exactly like Louise Anderson Liffengren, except she was blonde and blue eyed. We did not get a chance to talk to her.)
BAGN, AURDAL (families Liffengren, Tronrud)
Bagn is a sweet town about 110 miles north of Oslo on the east side of the country. It is the home of most of the Liffengren / Tronrud ancestors. It is located on Highway 13, which takes you across the country to the towns of Vik Sogn, where many of the Anderson ancestors are located. The road trip between Vik and Bagn is beautiful, following fjords, mountains, and waterfalls. There are several Stave churches en route, and two ferry boat rides are required to make the one day trip.
While in Bagn we visited the Liffengren Farm and the Tronrud Farm. Cousin Aslak Tronrud gave me directions to Cousin Tor & Kari Tronrud farm. The Tronrud farm is in the high pasture area where livestock was taken to graze in the summer. It is now an area of cabins and cottages, and the pine trees are taking over.
Mrs. Tronrud directed me to the low main Tronrud farm near Bagn. I took pictures of the farm where our great grandmother grew up. The two story white home is perched on a ledge, overlooking a picturesque valley.
The Liffengren farm is in the south end of town, but it took me a little time to find it. Everyone knew where it was, but I had a tough time following the directions. A taxi cab came along, and he gave me directions, which still confused me. So I jumped in the cab, and gave him his shortest ever fare, about 200 feet.
The cab driver took me to a home that he said all the drivers knew as the Liffengren farm. This was confirmed by the sign on the mail box structure that said Liffengren. I talked to the current owner, who graciously showed me a 1904 portrait of the Liffengren family in front of the house. The house itself is a nice two story house, painted red, and it appears that the farm used to go down to the river. Route 13 is a two lane road that appears to split the farm from the River. If you are looking for the farm, locate the red church across the river in the south end of Bang. The home is directly across the river from the church.
The church is very attractive, with a graveyard around the church. There are names of families connected with our family, but in Norway, as in much of Europe, graves are recycled after a number of years, say 20 to 40 years. So there are no graves from our ancestors unless someone paid to keep the grave site over the years, or if there was no need for additional burials.
I also visited the Stave church above Bagn, in Reingly. This is the church that the Tronruds attended.
Beth and I went to dinner with cousin Aslak Tronrud and his fiancee Linda Davidson friend in Oslo. Oslo is a beautiful city on the fjord, with numerous boats coming in and out the harbor overlooked by great restaurants. We had a great time.
MAKING THIS TRIP
If any relative is interested in making this trip, I would suggest flying into Oslo, renting a car, and driving the loop to Vik, Sogn and Seljord, Telemarken. It is a one day drive between each one of the communities. You could easily do this trip in one week, or take two or three weeks if you want to do a lot more research and make more contacts.
Farms in Vik, Sogn, Norway
Craig Hullinger is a Partner in Ruyle Hullinger, a City Planning and Economic Development Consulting Firm.
He holds a Masters Degree in Environmental Planning. He is a Vietnam Veteran and a retired Colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve.