Saturday, 9 January 2010
My genealogical journey started when, clearing out my parents' old home, I found several ancient photo albums in a suitcase which had belonged to my father. The albums came from my grandparents and my great grandfather, and they were filled with photos of people I knew nothing about - no names. I suddenly realized I knew very little about my background, hardly even the first name of my great grandfather, certainly not his wife's name and nothing at all about their background. I knew that someone had come from Megrund in Espedalen, but which one? Also there was some connection with people in Risør, probably on my grandmother's side, and some relations which we had visited in the US in 1958, but that was all. Worst of all, I was the only one left in the family who had even a small chance of unravelling some of the stories, as I was the only one who had ever talked to my father about his family. Looking at the albums I decided I had better do something about this. Putting names to the photos became a real challenge!
Luckily in Norway we have free access to an excellent internet service with digitized achive material, such as the 1900, 1865 and 1801 census, emigrant protocols and a wealth of other documents, as well as scanned church records. Once I discovered this site, I became completely hooked on genealogy! Searching through the census I found my grandparents' backgrounds, and to my great surprise I learned that my great grandfather (the owner of one of the albums) had five siblings: two sisters and three brothers. The two girls and one of the brothers left for America in 1883. In the albums were photos taken by photographers in Boston, New York and El Paso, so I started to look through the Norwegian emigrant records and found all three. I also learned that the brother, Ole Thorsen (in the US he took the name Thompson) had been on a visit to Kragerø in 1890/91. One of the photos taken by a Kragerø photographer was that of a young man which I recognized as the same person, sitting with his family, on photos taken in Boston. In the Kragerø photographer's files I found that a photo of Ole Thorsen was taken 5th May, 1890 - I had found my first lead to my great grandfather's US family.