|ERLING HELLANDSJØ: "FOUR CROFTS AT
(Erling Hellandsjø: born 1926, Hemne. Cousin of
Sverre Gjendem. Sea captain ("skipper"). Main subject: Maritime history of
Sør-Trøndelag. Has examined bloodlines to Vålebru, Fron, and Ringsaker,
Hedmark Now retired. Residence Kyrksæterøra. Regular contributor to
the publications of Fosen Historielag: "Årbok for Fosen". Hereby introducing his
latest article in "Yearbook of Fosen", viz Year 2000 p
A croft might simply be a piece of
land, viz a turf patch, where the crofter and his family built a home
("cabin"). But 50% of all tenant farmers had earth for cultivation in
addition, to feed a couple of cows and grow some barrels of grain or potatoes.
Some crofters owned their buildings, only renting land from the
self-owner. In most cases the crofter had to rent dwelling houses, as well. At a
set price every year he was also allowed to cut timber for these purposes.
Working for the farmowner, often substituted clauses of pay, as money was
scarse for the crofters. Work duty was commonly confined to sowing and
harvesting. The other 1/2 of Norway's crofters were "tenants without earth".
That usually ment they were cobblers, sailors, craftsmen and shipsworks
employees. The number of crofters rose fast from 1800 to 1855, until
emigration got started. In 1855 there were 65,000 crofters with earth, the other
50% without land patches. Our source: "Cappelen Encyclopedia: Statistics on
crofters", Oslo. In the big National registration of 1865, the
number of crofters was at its peak, viz 305. Being gradually reduced as
time went by, the numbers reached 65,000 in 1917 in Hemne parish, Sør-Trøndelag.
57 of them in Heim bezirk, that was separated from the Hemne community
1911. Today only one croft is used for farming purposes. Only overgrown greenery
reveal the secrecy of former cultivators, often tracelessly disappearing. In
most cases the earth was returned to the main farm, and as a result of modern
farming, the old crofts became a wilderness again. In
some cases the tenant finally became a selfowner, and family members were
better integrated in the local community.
This narration is about
four crofter brothers at "Vågaunet" in Hemne, and there is plenty of
familly history associated with our recapitulation of events. Among a great
number of crofters at "Røstberget" in the 19th century, this family case is
important in capacity of being so well described. "Vågaunet" was then a croft
under Farm nr. 45 "Vågan". Shortly before 1810, a new family arrived. It was Ole
Olsen (1770-1854) and his wife Gjertrud Larsdtr. (1782-1873).Their origin is
obvious. They respectively came from "Røstvollen" and "Vågan" at
Hemnskogen, and they stayed on 40 years as crofters at "Vågaunet" This croft was
relatively large, with good bonity-of-soil and living was made easier from
their fjord fishing and summer dairy activity. At the public registration
on 1865, the Vågaunet-family had 4 cows, one horse, 10 sheep, 4 goats and a pig.
They sowed as much as 4 barrels of oats and 2 barrels of potatoes. When
crofting was over-and-out in 1875, its owner again used the earth for domestic
purposes, and the farmer's son, enjoying the privilege of allodial rights,
became next farmer. He put up new buildings in the 1940's.
Four sons grew up here. Their names: 1:
Lars, b 1810, 2: Ingebrigt b. 1814, 3: Anders, b 1816 and 4: Ole b 1819,.
They were all crofters in this limited area in the sailing route to Trondheim.
In a way we may regard them as last generation of tenants in Sør-Trøndelag.
Crofting was waning out as aspect of an agricultural society. . One sister
who was called Guru, b 1823, married 1850 with Jonas Jensen Storvig,
b 1826 at island Hitra. In 1865 they lived at croft "Stølen", Vågan at
Mistfjord. Their children were Ole (11), Gjertine Johanna (4) and Johan (2). We
have, however, been unable to find out the whereabouts of this family.
Lars Olsen Vågaunet.took over the farm of his parents in 1841. The
documents were signed on Sep 29 1841. On Jun 1839 he married with Ane Arntsdtr.
Ness, b 1812 at Orkdal. Her family were newcomers to Nes, Hemnskogen. As time
went by, Anne and Lars had five sons and three daughters, staying on at Vågaunet
as crofters. This family had then lived two generations, or 70 years, at
Vågaunet. In 1876 two sons, Johan (1847-1937) and Ole (1837-1908) bought a part
of farm "Flesvika" at Åfjord and resettled there. The old couple, Anne and Lars,
left with their children and spent old age as conditionary retired persons at
Flesvik. Lars's parents had passed away by then. Their son Lars b 1854 sadly
drowned together with two other youngsters capsizing at Mistjord on Oct 13 the
year before. ( Please compare what dad Sverre Gjendem tells about the same
accident!) Two other sons: 1): Arnt (1844-1874) and Tron (1851-1877) died in the
1970's. There were even two daughters: 3: Karen (1840-1893) who married at
Snekkvikan, and the youngest one 4: Anne b 1857, living at Heggstadsetra in
Åsfjord. Son nr. 2 at Vågaunet, was Ingebrigt (1814-1897. His choise was
croft "Tannbukta", in NorthEastern direction of his home at Vågaunet. Ingebrigt
married with Maria Andersdtr. Helland (1820-1891) from Helland in Hellandsjø. A
leasing contract was signed on Feb 14 1853. According to the public registration
of 1865, he had one cow plus four sheep in the Tanndal valley. He reportedly
sowed 1/4 barrel of oats and 1/2 barrel of potatoes. Their marriage lasted
49 years until death separated this couple. They had 5 daughters and a son.
Today we ask ourselves how it could be possible to support a family at such a
tiny spot as "Tannbukta". Even if the fjord supplied enough fish closely to
their boathouse. Again the bushland has taken control, and a new lot has
invaded the "Tanna", that the croft is called these days. Expensive cabins,
ditto speed boats and fancy boathouses have turned this idyllic
place into a noisy holiday paradise for the rich.
The third "Vågaun"-brother was Anders (1816-1890). He
married 1843 with Gjertine Andersdtr., born 1802 at Strand, Hitra. She died at
her daughter Ragnhild's place. Ragnhild had married Peder Jøstensen Vaagan
in "Perstaua", Vaagan 1881. Acconding to local tradition, Anders passed away
there, as well. Anders and Gjertine didn't have any children in their matrimony.
After Gjertine and Anders had left "Røstøyåsen" appr. 1880, the owner Hans J. W.
Strøm at Magerøy signed a tenant contract with Wilhelm Christian Strøm, b 1840
at Hitra and his wife Guri Jonsdtr. This couple married on Oct 30 1872 and had a
son Nils Justin, who was born on Feb 26 1873. And she was still living at
Røstøy in 1896, when Nils, who had then found a wife, bought a farm-part
at Bjørkneset. Crofting days were then over at Røstøyås. "Gussøya" was an old
croft at farm Vågan where people had lived much earlier. According to oral
tradition, a couple of people had survived the "Black Death" plague in the 14th
century at "Heim" and "Gussøya". Inhabitants of Gussøy had become selfowners in
1903. But progress ment the place had to be abandoned in the 1960's. In 1865
there had been 5 cows, 8 sheep plus 2 goats, and they ventured sowing one barrel
of potatoes and one barrel of oats. The fourth and youngest brother came ot
Gussøya. Ole (1819-1893) and his wife Guru Kristoffersdtr. (1821-1872) built
their home at a croft here. She origined from Farm "Røstøy", a croft at Magerøya
in the fjord. Guru and Ole married on Dec 28 1847. They renewed at lease
contract that had been offered to Kristoffer Olsen Nes and his wife in 1833.
After his wife passed away, Kristoffer Olsen t.o. Gussø (1800-1890) decided to
let Guru and Ole have it from 1847. This man, who was nicknamed
"Gammel-Kristoffer", was no relative of the two Kristoffers who later on grew up
at Gussøya. We are told he was clever fisherman and fish processor. The building
of an attractive dockshouse was accredited to his initiative. And we
hear about his money lending activites. Nothing said about rents for those in
need of cash.
Guro and Ole had three daughters and a son.
Daughters: 1: Gjertrud b 1848 and 2: Olina b 1858 both emigrated to the
USA, whereas their son 3: Kristoffer (1850-1912), in addition to 4: daughter Ane
Maria b 1852 chose to make a living in Norway. Ole (1819-1893) and his
wife Guru Kristoffersdtr. (1821-1872) chose to become crofters. Ane Maria was
the one who kept on securing their bloodline at Gussøya
through their son Ole Ingebrigtsen b. 1875. Whe was married to Anna Gjertrud
Hansdtr. Loe, born 1877 at Averøya. Ole bought Gussøya in 1903. The croft had
then been decaying after the death of crofters Guru and Ole 10 years before. The
size of the Gussøy-farm amounted 20 da (not exactly acres) of cultivated land.
The main building was raised 1830, before Guro and Ole settled as crofters on
the island. A barn was completed 1911, when Ole I. Gussøy became a selfowner.
The old pier ("brygge" was old, but nobody knew when it was built, perhaps
shortly after 1800. Deterioratin roofs had been removed at least a
couple of times. Cutter shingles were first used, empregnated wit harshened
cod-liver-oil, called "lyse", Kristoffer I. Gussøy (1918-1998) was able to
report. The pier was thus a "producton plant" for fish and herrings, if we are
allowed to use a modern phrase. Given a beating by many a storm, as nearly every
single house at Gussøya had to take damages.
Kolbjørn Aune: Hemneboka Vol 2 p 73.292. Orkanger
Kolbjørn Aune: Hemneboka Vol 3, Farm history of Østre
Heim. Orkanger 1995
Folketellinger Hemne, Snillfjord: 1865, 1875 and
Kristoffer O Gussøy (1819-1898) Personal
Leidulf Hafsmo: Hafr het en mann. Gardshistorie for
Kyrkjebøker for Hemne. Statsarkivet i
Norges Bebyggelse. Vestre del s.
Tore Preyser: Norsk historie 1800-1870. Fra
standssamfunn mot klassesamfunn. Oslo 1985.
Henrik Sødal: Hemneboka Vol 1 part 2, p 234, Orkanger
Martin P. Vaagan: "Perstu-slekta, Vaagan i