21 November 2016

Still Yule-festing!

Four out of five Nearby Norwegians made it to this year's Yulefest at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle on Sunday, November 20.  Within a few years, the Nordic Heritage Museum will be moving to a brand new site, and we'll have more to explore during our Yulefest get-togethers.

Clockwise from upper left:  Carolyn Merritt, Chery Kinnick, Cathy Lykes, and Luci Baker Johnson (missing this year is Barbara Holz Sullivan).

04 June 2016

Poulsbo AYPE Viking #6: Halvor Holte

Halvor O. Holte was part of the "Viking" contingent to represent his community in the Norway Day parade at the 1909 Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition (AYPE) in Seattle. See the explanatory blog entry for this series: Poulsbo Vikings at the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition, 1909.

It is not known whether or not Halvor Holte actually lived in Poulsbo, Washington, or how he was selected as a representative member of that community for the AYPE.  By 1913, the Seattle City Directory listed Holte as a watchmaker, so it is likely he was living in Seattle by 1913.

Holte was born on October 7, 1881 in Rindal, Norway.  Having immigrated from Norway in 1906, he was a more recent arrival than the other Poulsbo "Vikings" who participated in the 1909 AYPE Norway Day activities.  Holte, a naturalized citizen, was also younger than the others.  He was about 27 years old when the photograph to the left was taken.

Holte had the dubious distinction of having to register for two United States drafts in his lifetime.  His registration card for World War I lists his brother, Nils Holte, from Bellingham, as the next-of-kin, so it is assumed he was unmarried at that time.  Tall and slender, he had brown eyes and brown hair., and it is very probable that the mustache he sported in his Viking photograph was a real one.  By 1918, he lived at 921 Water Street in South Bend, Washington.
Holte registered for the World War II draft in 1942, when he was about 60 years of age.  At that time, he still lived in South Bend, with his wife, Dora, from Montana, and their son, George.  At some point in his professional career, he began advertising himself as a "jeweler" instead of "watchmaker," as the add from the 1958 Raymond High School yearbook shows.

Fortunate to be very long lived, Holte passed away at age 97 in Pacific, Washington.


--Seattle City Directory, 1913
--U. S. Federal Census, South Bend, Pacific, Washington, 1930
--U. S. School Yearbooks, 1880-2012, Raymond High School, Raymond, Washington, 1958
--U. S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, Halvor Holte
--U. S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942, Havlor Holte
--Washington Death Index, 1940-1996
Chery Kinnick

Poulsbo AYPE Viking #8: John J. Twedt

John J. Twedt, of Poulsbo, Washington, was part of the "Viking" contingent to represent his community in the Norway Day parade at the 1909 Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition (AYPE) in Seattle. See the explanatory blog entry for this series: Poulsbo Vikings at the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition, 1909.

John J. Twedt was born in Norway on January 18, 1874, and came to Washington State by way of Iowa.  He immigrated to America in about 1888, and became a naturalized citizen.  In 1910, while still a single man, he rented a house along with his sixteen years-younger brother, Chris Twedt, who became known for being a player on the local baseball team.

On his World War I draft registration card for 1918, Twedt was noted as a man of medium height and build, with brown eyes and dark hair.  His occupation was listed as "auto driver."  An ad running in the Poulsbo Record on June 27, 1918  indicated that he would answer calls for driver service, day or night.

By 1920, Twedt was working as a barber in Poulsbo.  The family resided on Second Street, just a few doors down from Peter Iverson, a fellow AYPE Viking participant.  Twedt lived with his spouse, Amanda, and their two daughters:  Alice Aletta (Twedt) Seely, and June N. (Twedt) Davis.

Five years following Twedt's involvement in the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition, a fire devastated about a third of the Poulsbo business section, including his own barber shop.  The hardy town business owners did not take very long to re-establish themselves, by any means possible, with Twedt setting up his barber shop temporarily in A. N. Nelson's machine shop.

John Twedt reportedly died on June 24, 1958 in Bremerton, Washington.


--"Remembering the Great Fire of 1914."  Kitsap County Herald, September 15, 2014,  http://www.northkitsapherald.com/news/274914941.html?mobile=true (accessed June 2, 2016).
--U.S. Federal Census, Poulsbo, Kitsap, Washington, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940.
--World War I Draft Registration Cards, U.S., 1917-1918, John J. Twedt, Ancestry.com, Registration State: Washington; Registration County: Kitsap; Roll: 1991652.
Chery Kinnick

Poulsbo AYPE Viking #1: Stener Thorsen

Stener Thorsen, of Poulsbo, Washington, was part of the "Viking" contingent to represent his community in the Norway Day parade at the 1909 Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition (AYPE) in Seattle. See the explanatory blog entry for this series: Poulsbo Vikings at the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition, 1909.

Stener [Stenar] Thorsen was born in about 1850 and immigrated to the U.S. from Heidalen, Gudbrandsdalen, Norway in 1869, together with his three brothers:  Iver, Paul, and Ole. Stener and his wife, Ragnild, were married in about 1879, the year after Ragnild arrived in America.

A Poulsbo pioneer, Thorsen was one of two earliest settlers in Big Valley, on Valley Road, about a mile north of the town of Poulsbo, Washington.  Deeds owned by a friend and neighbor, Fred Frederickson, show that Thorsen had his property as early as 1879.  Being in all probability the first settler in the valley, perhaps that is why he won the AYPE "Viking #1" position in the 1909 photographs.

Thorsen was a logging operator, and the land he chose was optimally situated near the head of Liberty Bay, which allowed easy access for loggers who needed to float out their logs.  He developed an extensive farming operation, and maintained a large market garden on his farm.  Thorsen's produce included an acre of oxheart carrots that were marketed at the company store in Port Gamble, or peddled to ships waiting in the bay to take on lumber.  He also raised potatoes, and picked from cherry trees on his property during market season.

Stener Thorsen was a community minded man, as many early Norwegian-American settlers were, and he often served as an official in precinct elections.  He also took an interest in the state of Poulsbo's schools, church, and roads.  He died on September 28, 1931, the day before his 81st birthday, and was buried at the First Lutheran Church Cemetery in Poulsbo, Washington.
Stener Thorsen farming (date unknown).  Image was uploaded
 to Ancestry.com by member "boggiedog7" on April 27, 2008.


--Driscoll, Judy and Sherry White.  Poulsbo, Images of America series (Arcadia Publishing:  Charlestown, South Carolina, 2013).
--Poulsbo Centennial Book Committee.  Poulsbo:  Its First Hundred Years, compiled and edited by Rangvald Kvelstad (Centennial Book Committee:  Poulsbo, Washington, 1986). 
--U. S. Federal Census, Poulsbo, Kitsap, Washington, 1910.
--U. S. Find-a-Grave, Stener Thorsen.
Chery Kinnick

Historical Societies: For the History in You

Here is a shout out to the historical societies far and wide; they make the rediscovery of our local roots possible.

If you live in a location that has a great state historical society, then you live in a place that values local heritage.  For the Nearby Norwegians, the Washington State Historical Society, located in the city of Tacoma, is a treasure.  The Society makes history readily available through a museum, exhibits, photographs, events and programs, as well as the increasingly popular History Day writing project for Washington middle and high school students.  The Society is also an education partner for HistoryLink.org, a free and ever-growing online encyclopedia of Washington State history.

The quarterly membership publication of the Washington State Historical Society, Columbia, serves as an indispensable venue for writers and historians by which to share their research, thus inspiring others to learn more about a wealth of local history subjects.

"COLUMBIA Magazine has a rich, 20-year history of producing scholarly and entertaining issues capturing the essence of Northwest history through engaging prose and striking image..."

Researchers are usually not users of just one historical society's offerings.  For the Nearby Norwegians, the search for Norwegian-American genealogical and historical information often reaches further afield to the offerings of the  Minnesota Historical Society, the Wisconsin Historical Society, and more.  Where would we be without these organizations?   ...All the poorer for facts and stories, to be certain, and less informed about the richness of culture and the effects of industry, infrastructure, and more, on local populations.

But, history does not just happen on a state level, so now we come to those small powerhouse organizations, often run by dedicated volunteers--the local historical societies.  How we love them!  It does not matter what area they are "local" to.  If you are researching history in that area, then it is your locality, too.  Our advice is to maintain membership in as many as you can afford, because you are not just helping to ensure that information access remains possible for yourself, but also for your descendants, and your friends and neighbors.

"We are not makers of history.  We are made by history." 
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

"History is philosophy teaching by examples."
 - Thucydides

"History is not a burden on the memory, but an illumination of the soul." 
 - Lord Acton

Chery Kinnick

24 February 2016

Going Down the Proverbial Rabbit Hole

I have an alert on my computer! Every hour - on the hour - a man, in a loud whisper - states the time. For example, I'll be trolling the internet and hear this "It's 2 o'clock!" from the speakers on my laptop.  I look up to discover that it's 2AM. Yes, 2 o'clock in the morning and I've spent the last several hours 'online'.

Or as a dear friend says,
I've been traveling down the proverbial Rabbit-Hole! 

From Alice in Wonderland ... 

"The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well. Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her and to wonder what was going to happen next."

For me this typically starts with my desire to locate one piece of information. A question that needs an answered, so that I can continue my 'journey of discovery'. Frequently that elusive 'nugget of knowledge' is found on one of the following 10 websites. Many times all of these are open in tabs on my screen, with me clicking back and forth endlessly.
  • WorldCat.org
  • Find-a-Grave.com
  • Ancestry.com
  • DigitalArchives.wa.gov
  • Newspapers.com
  • Archives.gov 
  • ChroniclingAmerica.loc.gov
  • Hathitrust.org
  • Wikipedia.org
  • Infoweb.Newsbank.com (historic Seattle Daily Times 1895-present)
However, the road to locating this 'nugget' is a long winding path with many offshoots that catch my attention! Eventually, I can't even remember what the original question was, and I've quintupled my list of questions. I've learned to write down the original question on a notepad next to the computer, in order to stay focused. Plus open a Word document on my computer to capture the list of new questions - to capture them for further exploration.

Today I was online researching a question that had nothing to do with anything Norwegian. I found myself on one of those offshoots, traveling deep into a list of books that piqued my interest. The subject matter was Norwegians AND the American Civil War. Below are links to the books I discovered. 

I thought others who read this blog might also find these books to be of interest.

I also wondered if others ever get caught up in the proverbial Rabbit Hole?  If so, I invite you to share your thoughts on it in the comments. 

Now I can get back to my original rabbit-hole question. :) 

14 February 2016

Thomas Andersen Stang • 1935 - 2016

Thomas Andersen Stang
aka Tom Stang
aka Tommy
(photo by Luci Baker Johnson)
On Friday (February 12) I attended the Celebration of Life for Tom Stang - a mentor and friend. The celebration was held at the Leif Erikson Sons of Norway Lodge in Ballard (Seattle, Washington). There were at least 200 people in attendance. It was truly a memorable experience. So many people, so many wonderful memories, and great food.

Robert Johnson sang a beautiful rendition of the Lord's Prayer.

The following poem was read:
Song of the River: 
Tribute to William Randolph Hearst

And at the end of the evening we all sang a song:
Las Oss Leve for Hverandre  
/ Let Us Live for Each Other

Tom - My Mentor & Friend
I can't recall exactly when I meet Tom, but it had to be sometime in the late 1990s. Tom was a friend.  A man with a friendly smile and twinkling eyes. He was a man with a wealth of information at his fingertips. Tom was someone I could ask ANYTHING and he would have a quiet (and accurate) reply.

I will miss this man and all that he shared with people in Seattle, the U.S., Norway, and beyond.

Obituary • Seattle Times • January 21, 2016
Thomas Anderson Stang - Born March 12, 1935 in Seattle to Norwegian immigrant Parents Christen and Hedvig Stang. He succumbed to lung cancer on January 14, 2016.

Tom grew up in Seattle and graduated from Garfield High School in 1952. He received his business degree from the University of Washington in 1956. He served in the United States Army. He returned to the University of Washington Law School, earning his Juris Doctor degree in 1962. He began his legal career as deputy prosecuting attorney under King County Prosecutor, Charles Carroll. When Tom's father became ill, he was appointed Honorary Norwegian Vice Consul. In 1967, his father passed away and Tom assumed the full responsibilities as Honorary Norwegian Consul. He continued his father's legacy and commitment as consul, providing Norwegian representation in the Pacific Northwest for 40 years.

Tom and Nancy Stang • 2007 (photo by Luci Baker Johnson)
In recognition of his outstanding services and contributions to the interest of Norway, His Majesty, the king of Norway awarded Tom "The Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav, Knight 1st Class" in 1976. The King of Norway further bestowed the honor of "The Royal Order of Merit Commander" in 1997. Tom's family and commitment to the interest and heritage of Norway goes back to 1906 when his great uncle was appointed Honorary Norwegian Consul. Tom's contribution of 40 years meant that he and his family represented Norway in Seattle for 100 Years.

Tom is survived by his wife Nancy; sister Ingri Johnson (Richard); brother-in-law Kjell Schroder (Pat); nieces and nephews; special cousin Ann-Marie Simonson; and cousins in Norway.

Seattle's honorary consul of Norway hangs up his hat - A family tradition for more than 100 years
Nancy Bartley The Seattle Times - April 4, 2007

He's donned a Homburg hat and gloves to greet the king, forged connections between Boeing and Braathens, sat beside countless bedsides and issued more visas than he can count.

For 40 years Thomas Stang has been Seattle's honorary consul of Norway, continuing a family tradition going back more than 100 years to when his great-uncle started the city's first Norwegian Consulate.

But now Stang is retiring from the unpaid position.
For years, Stang has reported to the eighth-floor office at 1402 Third St., which houses the Norwegian Consulate, Stang Travel Service and Stang's law office. Throughout the day, Stang and his wife, Nancy, juggle consulate inquiries — Americans asking about immigrating to Norway, or Norwegians wanting to do business here — with selling airline tickets to Oslo and setting up wills and estates.

Even though the law practice is Stang's full-time job, he squeezes in meetings with the Seattle consular corps, keeps abreast of news in Norway and sometimes helps track down missing relatives in Norway. Once, he found the heirs of a deceased Norwegian citizen — who lived and died in Seattle but had distant family in the old country.

In retirement, he plans to use the boxes of records to sort and catalog the history of Norwegians in Washington and Idaho — the area he serves — to create a research archive.

When Stang's great uncle, Thomas Kolderup, started the consul in 1906, Norwegians were the largest ethnic group in the Puget Sound region and dominated the area's marine and fishing industries. It was a time when disagreements at sea were settled with fists, shipboard working conditions were poor and accidental deaths common. The consul's duties reflected as much.

Kolderup wrote reports about accidents aboard Norwegian ships, tended to the hospitalized, notified next of kin and dealt with immigration issues.

He served as consul until his death in 1932, when Einar Beyer was appointed and Thomas Stang's father, Christen Stang, became vice consul.

Christen Stang became consul in 1941. By then, shipboard working conditions were better, but consular duties still largely involved marine issues because many sailors were Norwegian citizens. If they were injured, fell ill or were accused of a crime, they needed representation.

Born in Seattle, Thomas Stang grew up speaking Norwegian, attended school in Norway, spent much of his life traveling there and married a Norwegian. He eventually became vice consul, but he never planned on taking over from his father.

Stang was a King County deputy prosecutor when his father died in 1967. He left the Prosecutor's Office to work for Stang Travel Service and was officially appointed consul by the king of Norway.

Stang had no sooner taken over when he was called to Harborview Medical Center to see a Norwegian sailor who was in critical condition after being hit by a truck. Stang was devastated when informed that the young man later died.

"Since then, I've sent a lot of bodies home," he says.

When a Norwegian citizen dies here, Stang makes the repatriation arrangements.

On the job
Stang was still new to his job when he received notice that Norway's King Olav was coming to Seattle for a visit. He asked for advice from Scandinavian Airlines' protocol adviser and was told to wear gloves and a Homburg.

Many official royal visits would follow, including King Olav again in 1975; his successor, King Harald, and Queen Sonja in 1995; and Prince Haakon in 1999.

Interspersed among them were many unofficial visits, in which the royals simply passed through, including Princess Martha Louise's visit to promote her book in 2005. On that visit the Stangs played chauffeur, taking the princess and her infant daughter to Poulsbo for a book signing.

While royal visits continue to be part of consular duties, marine and fishing issues over the years declined, Stang says.

Seattle used to have offices for Norwegian shipping companies, internationally prominent Norwegian marine architects and lots of fishermen. But the fish traps Norwegians favored were outlawed.

When the 1987 Norwegian International Ship Register went into effect, making it possible for ships to be registered in foreign ports and sail with foreign and lesser-paid crews, it put an end to the era of Norwegian mariners in Puget Sound.

As one area declined, another increased. Boeing recruited engineers from Norway in the 1960s, and since then Boeing planes have been sold to SAS and Norway's Braathens Airlines. Stang was heavily involved in smoothing the way for the international transactions.

His background in law, his ability to speak Norwegian and English, knowledge of both cultures and of whom to talk to and when, helped make the usually complex title transfers and liens on jets go quicker and easier.

A "remarkable record"

At one of a number of retirement parties honoring him, Dågfinn Melby from Boeing thanked him for helping in the company's dealings with Braathens.

Stang's boss, Consul General Are-Jostein Norheim in San Francisco, also praised him for his "remarkable record of service," at such a high level that over the generations, the Seattle consulate has come to have more authority than other consuls.

Stang, for example, can issue visas while many other honorary consuls cannot.

It's a role that Vice Consul Kim Nesselquist will assume upon approval from the U.S. State Department.

Stang has received two of Norway's highest civic honors: the Saint Olav Medal and the Royal Norwegian Order of Saint Olav.

Behind the ivory door at the Norwegian Consulate there are photos of kings, commemorative paperweights, Norwegian flags and faded travel posters.

"I don't want to retire," Stang says, as he sits behind a desk in a room stuffed with at least 40 years worth of boxes and files: life stories — his and others' — tucked among the pages.

12 February 2016

How Norwegians Died--Interpreted

Martin Roe Eidhammer is a native Norwegian who has come up with an intriguing and helpful list for genealogy-minded folks who are trying to make sense out of Norwegian church records.  In his recent blog post, Norwegian Causes of Death, he has created a list of terms used in times-gone-by, and interpreted them in English.  As both genealogist and registered nurse, he figured that this list was just the type of thing he could do to help the rest of us pursue our genealogy goals.  The causes of death described include somewhat recognizable terms such as "falt" (death by falling from an elevated position), and "kramper" (convulsions), but there are many terms most of us would not otherwise have a clue about.  So, if your third great grandpa died from "alderdomssvaghet," you can now check out Martin's list to find out exactly what that means.

Many thanks to Martin for providing this information.  You can visit the main page of his blog at:  Norwegian Genealogy and then some.

Chery Kinnick