|ERLING HELLANDSJØ: "FROM FRON TO
(His main article on GreatGrandma Ane Larsdtr.
(Reistad)-Vike's family. Fosen Historielag, Årbok 1990 p
This account is about the families of
"Bakke-Træet" and "Kongsli-Bakken" of Fron, Oppland, plus "Sætereie" and
"Evensons" of Elverum and Moelven, Hedemark. Famine forced them to
leave their native Gudbrandsdalen, moving north to Trøndelag and the Møre
coast. This is the story of their journey and later life and experiences,
extraordinarily well and truthfully documented by Sverre Gjendem's cousin sea
captain, presently retired, Elling Hellandsjø from Hemne, Kyrksæterøra,
Sør-Trøndelag. You are also kindly requested to study his relevant
article in Y. 2000 edition of Fosen Historielag: "Yearbook of Fosen".
During Napoleonic War Years 1804-14 the crofters
of Gudbrandsalen supplied Norwegian troops in the border areas against
Sweden. Failing crops 1812 and 1813 followed like a bad omen, even if statistics
tell the population remained stable. However appr. 1820 a conciderable rise
began in the local population, and a lot of new tenant farms were cleared
and cultivated to adjust to increasing demands for food supplies. The
economical recession resulted in emigration to America 1850, and simultaneously
internal emigrationm for example from Fron to Romsdal and Trøndelag. Spoiled
crops and misgrowth happened now and again. Spring chill was their worst fear.
This was the situation 1834-1837, and the crofters were desperate. Worst off
were the settlements of Øyer and Lesja, even if the picture was pretty much the
same everywhere. Public funds and charity didn't help much.
The situation was similar for the crofter
family of "Bakke-Træet" on the westbank of Lågen River, slightly north of
Vålebru in Sør-Fron. Tenants here were Christen Olson (40) first called
Bakke Træet, later on Vaaghalsen, and his wife Marta Larsdtr. Sætereie (38) and
their 6 minors. Christen Olson was born at the farm "Kongslibakken" in
Nord-Fron. She arrived from Ringsaker and used "Sætereie" as surname,
entering the church cronicle of Ringsaker on 9 Apr 1821. Their children were: 1:
Ingri b 1821, 2: Ingebår b 1823 (?), 3: Ole b 1826, 4: Mari b 1828, 5: Marta b
1829, 6: Lars b 1833. As newly-weds, shortly after having their firstborn
child , they still lived at the groom's home "Kongslia" in Nord-Fron. In
the summer of 1834 inhabitants of Gudbrandsdalen left individually and in
groups This constant stream was heading in only one direction, ie to the
north. The coastal area with fish and herring was Jerusalem of their heart.
After thorough deliberation, Christen Olsen entered the vicar's office to
proclaim emigration to "the Trøndelagske (area), otherwise indecisively
whereto". The entry in Fron Kyrkjebok was protocolled on Jun 14 1834. His
heart was more filled with hope, than certainty, as we see. First this family
walked up the broad Gudbrandsdalen to Dovre, then down the gulleys to Romsdal.
They made a rest at farm Lower Reistad, Vågstranda, maybe for a couple of days.
For some reason they left oldest daughter Ingeborg who was 11 years old. Was she
ill? Or did she sign on as farmgirl? Nothing is written and kept about their
journey, until Marta and 4 children appear at Holla in Hemne at full summer.
They find lodgings with a kind couple, viz Marit and Ellev, who were immigrants
from Rennebu. Marta's stay at Holla has been recorded by Ingeborg Sødahl
(1853-1926), and her report has been entered by her son Henrik Sødal in the book
"I gammeltida". Marta asked permission to remain at Holla for a while, and
her request was generously admitted. Christen was obviously searching on his own
for a new home. His search led to Røstkvervet, 2 1/2 Norwegian miles from Holla.
The road across Hemnskogen was then under constructon. In Oct 1834 this family
from Sør-Fron is protocolled as immigrants to Hemne. Then living at croft
"Vaagaunet", belonging to farm "Vaagan" at Røstkvervet. An impression is left of
former lodgers in the household of Ole and Gjertrud Vaagaunet. Where there is
kindheartedness, there is space and spare beds for strangers, as well. In
addition to the grownups Ole and Gjertrud, 5 children aging from 11 to 24, found
a home in their tiny crofthouse. On the other hand the newcomers may have
spent their first winter at Vaagaunet. They rented the croft "Vaaghalsen"
at farm nr. 45/1 "Vaagan". Jøstein Fredriksen Belsvik b 1801 had bought this
farm 1827. We can only guess what it looked like at Vaaghalsen 1834-35. Of
course there might have been buildings, as a family called "Vaaghals" had
christianings at Hemne parish church twice. Their names were Ole Ingebrigtson
and Mali Johannesdtr. who had a daughter Ingeborg b 1830 and Ane Dorthea b 1833.
When they were emansipated 1845 and 1848 this family added "Rustli" as surname.
(NB This could indicate that they were relatives from Barrusten, Kongsli at
Fron!) It appears that Christen's family settled well in their new environment.
But bliss and sorrow wander hand-in-hand. Their son Ole b 1826 died on Dec 2
1835 at Våghalsen. Then two girls were born at the croft. Olina , perhaps
renamed after brother Ole, was born 1836, and Christina b 1838. Sadly both died
when infectious disease stuck the settlement in Feb 1840. The Træet family
consisted of 2 grownups and 3 daughters: Inger,. Mari, Marta plus the son Lars.
They gradually reached maturity, and the girls left their home at Vaaghalsen.
Inger b 1821 wed Ellev Olsen Østmark b 1815 at Rennebu. These two individuals
settled as crofters at "Stølen" in Mistfjord. Mari b 1828 wed 1849 with Morten
Andersøon Veø (or: Veøy) b 1823 at Vedøya island. This couple
settled at Bjellvika, bred a large family and had plenty of descendants in
Trøndelag. The youngest of the Vaaghalsen daugthers was Marta b 1830 in
Sør-Fron. she became the wife of Henrik Hermundson Vitsø b 1828. On the last day
of Year 1852 she gave birth to a daugher, who got the christianing name of Marta
Helene. Only 9 days after the birth of this girlchild, the mother died on Jan 9
1853. Henrik remarried in spring 1858 with Kirsti Jonsdtr. Heim b 1831 in
Meldal, Sør-Trøndelag. Whein their son Johan was born 1858, this family lived at
Heimsvågen. In the year 1860 Henrik rented croft "Mælen" at Belsvika from earth
then owned by the widow Augusta Strøm Belsvik b 1821 at Magerøya. Kristi and
Henrik then lived as crofters and had a lot of children. Marta Helene then grew
up here, accompanied by her dad, stepmother and half-siblings. She still loved
her home her, until she emigrated to the USA as a grownup woman. She was
probably the only one of this family from Gudrandsdalen, leaving for America.
Her dad and stepmother lived at Belsvika until the turn of the century. In the
public registration 1900 both Kirsti and Henrik were staying alive at Mælen.
Crofter & tailor Henrik Hermandson Belsvik died her on aug 5 1902 at the age
of 74. The youngest child alive of the Fron siblings was Lars b 1833. He married
Ingeborg Olsdtr. Scheishaug b 18490 from Vinje (Trøndelag). Their children
created the 2nd generation of settlers at Vaaghalsen. Their leasing contract
says Lars Christensen & wife "at life". It is signed at "Waage, Jan 2 1863".
Included in the deal was a summer dairy-cabin at Vaagsætra, Mistfjord. At
the farm Vaagan, to which the croft "Vaaghalsen" belonged 30 years before, great
changes had happened. The farm was indeed split in halves, among locals called
Perstauå (the old farm) and Sørstauå (dehanded farm). In nr. 1 Perstauå new
residents now resided. Croft Vaaghalsen had belonged to both farms, thus Peder
Jøsteinsen b 1837 signed for Sørstauå, whereas widow Magnhild Ingebrigtsdtr.
Waage b 1816 at Sinnes awcknowledged the deal for Sørstauå.
As you will remember, the olderst Træet-girl from
Sør-Fron was called Ingeborg b 1823. She stayed behind at Reistad,
Vågstranda. What happened to her? After years of longing and worry dad
Christen went to Romsdal to bring her back to her family. But the girl had
decided to stay, having fallen in love with a fine young man Lars Davidson
Reistad (26), the farmer's son. And they married at Vestnes parish church on a
summer's day 1843. No doubt in a hurry, as she had already born a daughter
Marta. More children soon arrived, and there was need for a home of their own.
"Luck's Attempt" (Lykkens Prøve), belonging to the widow of Lt. Wisløff was
available. When the young military gentleman passed away, his family went to
Kristiania and the farm was thrown to an auction. And Lars Reistad's bid was
accepted by the district recorder. However only a "ljorehouse" existed there,
and he also rented "Åslebakken ". As a result he took the surname Vike. At
"Åslebakken" as much as 12 children were born, 13 in all, their firstborn
daughter from Ner-Reistad inclusively. A healthy family, as 12 children reached
maturity. Their cabin was a crowded place. Therefore two children, Marta b 1841
and Kristen b 1849, renamed after their grandparents, were sent to Hemne. They
went to school here, and spent their childhood and adolescence at Vaaghalsen.
Marta was emansipated at Hemne parish church on May 17 1857, and her brother
soon after. Marta returned to Romsdal in the beginning to th 1860's. She married
1875, and had 2 sons and 2 daughters. Becoming a widow, she emigrated with her
sons Karl and Lars to the USA. Like the rest of her siblings she preferred the
State of South Dakota. Dauthers Kristianna and Marta arrived later. Marta
remarried in America and settled in Webster, S.D. At that time as much as 6
siblings had gathered there with their families. One of them, Lars b 1860,
returned to port town Ålesund, Norway. (Thus one of Lars's daughters married
Johan Ingebrigtsen Rødset in Fræna, in spite of of Mrs. Holen Helset knowing
nothing about it!)
Kristen L. Vike, the other child from Vikebukt grew
up at Vaaghalsen. He lost his life in a sailing accident at Mistfjorden on
Wednesday Oct 13 1875, when three youngsters lost their lives. They had
completed a transport assignment with schoolchildren to embulatory school
quarters at farm Stavnes. Seven years later a permanent school was built
at Svanem. His companions were Kristen's sister-child Anders Mortenson Bjeldvik
(26) and Lars Larssen Vaagaunet (21) The family at Røstkvervet grew up at humble
conditions, but only Marta Helene b 1852 emigrated to America. Her departure
happened by chance. Her halfsister Guri (1863-1908) was offerd a free trip on
the America steamer by the family Sponland who wanted to emigrate. However Guri
had second thoughts, and Marta Helene accepted the offer. She became a farmer's
wife in the State of Oregon on the westcoast. The 1/2 sister who stayed behind,
became a farmwife at Hofset in Vinjefjord, Trøndelag. Lars Davidson and Ingeborg
K. Vike built a home at "Lykkens Prøve" in the 1870's. This farm is beautifully
situated at the mouth of Tresjord, south of Molde. Ingeborg K. Vike died 1888,
and Lars in Aug 1905. Both of them are buried at Vestnes graveyard, and 5
children in America cost toombstones on their parents's grave. Sverre Gjendem
had their inscription gold repainted 1975. Once Ingeborg brought her daughter
Ane, Great- grandma of Per Gjendem, from Molde to Hemne to meet her family
members. This was the only time she paid a visit here, as old age was becoming a
problem. Christon Olsen Træet-Vaaghalsen died on Apr 19 1869, but his wife
stayed alive much longer. At the croft Vaaghalsen Lars and Ingeborg survived as
best as they could, but there weren't any children to care for them. In a letter
Lars writes a letter to his sister's son David L. Vike (called: Dave-Lars) at
Vikebukt, telling that he still used the farm on his own.. In the southern slope
of Vaaghalsen he grew fine apples, probably a luxury habit from
Gudbrandalen. After 1900 farming became more tiresome. As late as 1910 he wrote
to Dave-Lars that he was keeping on as usual. All good things come to an end,
and eventually they gave up and settled with relatives at Vinjeøra. The change
didn't conform with expectations, and the kind woman Oline b 1851 at
Tanna, and husbond Elias at croft Almlia on the southern side of Misfjord,
decided to have them in their household. Here Lars Christensen Vaaghalsen passed
away on Oct 18 1919. Then Ingeborg crossed the fjord to his relatives at Småbukt
where she stayed the rest of her days. According to tradition, the
Vaaghalsen family members were supposed to spend their retirement years at
"Pestaua", Vågan. But disease and a large family made that impossible. So
Vaaghalsen, that they loved so much, was deserted, as agreed on in the
contract of 1863. Cowshed and dwellinghouse were dismantled and utilized as
initially intended by fellow farmers of Hemne. In this was our touching
emigration story from Sør-Fron to Hemne ends. Our healthy family lives on
here and abroad, even if this fine but humble farm has become history. The
Røstkvervet home had a splendid view towards the sailing-route to
Trondheim and eastwards to Helland. Farming was resumed in th 1930's, but nobody
lives here any longer. This Fron-family wasn't the only one settling in Hemne
during the last century. In the census of 1865 32 "hemnværinger" were born in
Gudbrandsdalen, 1/2 of them in Fron parish.
1: Sverre J. Gjendem, b 1910, Molde, 2: Guri
Valås, b 1915, Vinjeøra, 3: Lars Davidson Vike, b 1889, Vikebukt, 4: Olav Magne
Vike, b 1901, Vikebukt, 5: Alfred M. Vaagan, b 1913 1891, 6: Johan J. Vaagan, b
1913, Hellandsjøen, 7: Marit O. Vaagan, b 1895, Hellandsjøen.
1: Kolbjørn Aune: Hemneboka II, Orkanger 1969. 2:
Einar Hovdhaugen, Jon Leirfall plus more: Radio programme on Nov 1 1989. 3: Ola
Rolstad : Gardar og slekter i Fron. 4: Henrik Sødal: Gammeltida i Hemne, Oslo
1969. 5: Folketelling for Hemne 1875 + 1900. 6: Kyrkebøkene
for Hemne, Fron og Ringsaker.