Monday, March 28, 2016

Torbjorn Haavik: A Life in Outline

Before today, I knew just three things about Torbjorn Andorson Haavik, my grandfather Charles Hovick's father, and my great-great grandfather.
  1. Born in 1833 in Norway
  2. Married Inger Nielsdatter Oritzland in 1865
  3. Died in 1881 in Norway
I don't know if he was ever photographed, but it's pretty unlikely, given that he was a poor farmer. We have pictures of his wife, taken after she immigrated, but there is no pictorial evidence of him.

This evening I struck gold. I found the Norwegian National and State Archives. Now I don't read a word of Norwegian, but I stumbled upon the scanned church books for the town of Skjold, a town near the Havik farm that is mentioned in a lot of other family records.

I started at the end of his life, trying to find a record of his death. I searched through pages of records from 1881, trying to make out handwriting in a language that I don't read, until I found it! Wow... the first real evidence that he existed. So I went backwards in search of his wedding. 1865. Wait, their oldest daughter was born in 1863, so that can't be right. So I backed up a year before that and started searching. Found it!! Okay, I'm on roll. Don't get too cocky. The further back you go, the harder it is to find records. But undeterred, I went looking for his birth. AND I FOUND IT!!!

So now I know a little more about this man, three generations back, whose genes make up 1/16 of who I am. He was real. He lived and loved and worked and died.
  1. Born March 17, 1833
  2. Baptized April 7, 1833
  3. Married June 12, 1862
  4. Died November 2, 1881
And best of all, I have documentation. Here it all is, along with my best attempt at translating. If you can shed light on some of the Norwegian..., let me know!


17 March 1833 | Thorbjorn | April 7, 1883 Norwegian... | (father?) Andor Tjerandson and (mother?) Bronla Thorbjornsdatter Haavig | Norwegian... | Norwegian...


12 June 1862 | Norwegian... Torbjorn Andorson | Haavik | age 29 | Andor Tjerandson Norwegian...
Norwegian... Inger Nilsdatter | Oritsland | 24 | Nils Norwegian... | Norwegian...


I learned from a cousin that because of failing health, he was on welfare at the end of his life. He died at the young age of 48 of what they later surmised was a ruptured appendix. My grandfather Charles, his son, had an appendectomy just after he was married in 1904. (In a crazy twist of fate, his new bride Pauline, my grandmother, had one at the same time, so they recovered from surgery side-by-side. But that's another story!) I wonder if it was comparing those two experiences that they came to assume the cause of Torbjorn's death. He left behind a wife and seven children ranging from three to eighteen years of age. He is buried in an unmarked grave in the poor section of the cemetery in Skjold. 

November 2, 1881 | (funeral?) November 8, 1881, (burial?) April 2 | Norwegian... Torbjorn Anderson | (born) 1833 | Haavik

No comments:

Post a Comment