Thursday, August 14, 2008

Peder and Regina LERFALD's 50th Anniversary

Source: 50th Anniversary of Peter and Regina Lerfald. Photograph. 7 June 1931. Original in the possession of Troy Midkiff [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Vancouver, Washington. 2008.

The couple sitting on the bench are my husband's great-great-grandparents, Peder Johnsen LERFALD (1855 - 1936) and Regina Olasdotter LERFALD (1859 - 1943), celebrating the 50th anniversary of their marriage, which took place 7 June 1881, probably in Goodhue Co., Minnesota. The photograph was likely taken at their home in Woodville, St. Croix Co., Wisconsin. Peder and Regina are not only husband and wife; they are also first cousins. But not, despite their surnames, are they both related on their fathers' sides.

Peder was born 25 April 1855 to John Nilssen LERFALD and Sigrid Lassesdotter LERFALDBJØRG, near Trondheim, Norwary. He was the fourth of seven children (one died in infancy) in a family that immigrated to America in 1866. His mother appears to have died shortly after they arrived, and his father remarried to Randa [--?--].

Regina was born 2 Apr 1859 to Ola Pedersen FORDALSHAUGEN and Ane Nilsdotter LERFALDHOLMEN, also near Trondheim. In fact, both Peder and Regina likely were born in or around the community of Lerfald, to the east of Trondheim. Regina was the sixth of nine children and her mother and siblings immigrated to the U.S. in 1874 after her father's death two years previously.

Peder's father John and Regina's mother Ane were brother and sister. You can see they both had the patronym "Nils...", meaning of course, their father's name was Nils. But they had different surnames because Norwegians at that time and place used the surname for the location in which they lived or the farm on which they worked. Their surnames would change with their location. When they immigrated to the United States, sometimes they used their latest surname, and other times they used their patronyms. The ladies often used the masculine version of their patronyn, becoming Ane "Nilssen" instead of Ane Nilsdotter, even though it didn't make sense. Americans were used to names ending in -son or -sen, not -dotter. I've found Regina in records where she used Lerfald as a surname and at other times used Olsen. Because of the many different names that were used, I've actually had a harder time finding my husband's ancestors after they arrived in the U.S. Their family histories in Norway have been very easy to trace using bygdebøker, a unique combination of census, family histories and farm histories within a parish.

Peder and Regina had six children: Sofia, John, Anna, Ole, Rena (my husband's great-grandmother), and Nannie, who died in infancy. John and Ole never married and are pictured in the photograph above. The woman is probably Anna, who lived nearby in Eau Claire, Eau Clair Co., Wisconsin with her husband and family. Sofia lived in Montana and Rena lived in Washington State - both with their respective husbands and families, so it's unlikely they were present for this celebration. We have a few other photos from this day, and neither Rena nor Sofia appear in them. The photos were probably sent to the daughters to share with them the celebration.
We've had some interesting conversations at my home regarding this photo:

"Norm, do you realize you're your own 5th cousin to yourself, and to your siblings? And our kids are 6th cousins to themselves and each other. You and the kids aren't just father and children, you're 5th cousins, once removed!"

"Look at the size of Peder's hands! Holy cow!"

"Wonder what the dog's name was?"

1 comment:

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

I have trouble enough trying to find the various spellings of a single name - I'm thankful that I don't have to guess what name they might have been using at any particular time.