I mentioned in a previous blog post that Dorthe Eriksdatter Aaberge (1838-1938) is the oldest confirmed ancestor in our family tree.  Now I know why.

Her father lived to be at least 89 years old and her grandfather lived to be 95!

  • Ole Pedersen (1751-1846)     = 95 years old
  • Erik Olsen (1802- aft. 1890)   = 89 years old (at least)
  • Dorthea Eriksdatter (1838-1938)   = 100 years old

Dorthe’s father, Erik Olsen Venjum (later Vassli, then Aabyrge) was born sometime in 1802 based upon a baptism date of 21 November 1802.[1]Hafslo Clerical District, Hafslo Parish, Norway, Kirkebøker no. A 2, 1755-1806 (1425P), s. 262, Erich, son of Ole Kiørnen and Ingebor; digital image, Digitalarkivet.no … Continue reading  He was a tenant farmer (husmann) who moved his young family from Hafslo Parish to the Vassli Farm in Sogndal Parish in 1838, then saved enough money to purchase at public auction a parcel (lpn 40) of the Åbyrge Farm in 1849.[2]Aabyrge Farm (lpn. 40-1), Indre Sogn sorenskriveri, Norway, Panteregister no. II.A.a.26a, 1829-1946, page 135, “Item no. 10: Skjøde fra Lanshandler Foss …,” 13 June 1849; digital … Continue reading  He sold his farm to son Lars Eriksen in 1865.[3]Aabyrge Farm (lpn. 40-1), Indre Sogn sorenskriveri, Norway, Panteregister no. II.A.a.26a, 1829-1946, page 135, “Item no. 11: Skjøde fra Erik Olsen …,” 25 October 1865; digital … Continue reading  Erik was later enumerated in the 1875 national census along with his wife Margrethe Larsdatter (1799-1882) as wards of his son Lars.[4]1875 Norway census, 1420P Sogndal Clerical District, population schedule, Stedje Parish, Aabyrge Farm no. 40, s. 299, line 8, Erik Olsen in household of Lars Eriksen; digital image, Digitalarkivet.no … Continue reading  See the 1875 enumeration below:

1875 Norway Census: Erik Olsen in household of son Lars Eriksen Aabyrge, Sogndal Clerical District

Lars, however, emigrated to America in 1877 with his wife and children, so Erik & Margrethe must have moved in with daughter Dorthe’s family, also at Åbyrge.  As best I can tell, Erik & Margrethe only had three children: Lars, Dorthe, and Ingeborg – born 1836, 1838, and 1840, respectively.  Lars and Ingeborg immigrated to America while Dorthe stayed in Norway.

Erik’s death date has not been determined.  Originally, I assumed it was in 1881 – taking him to the ripe old age of 79 or 80.  Online family trees usually give no death date, say 1881, or “after 1881,” and the records of a genetic cousin state that Erik probably died in 1881.

I decided to look into this more deeply.  I already knew Erik’s wife Margrethe died on 23 September 1882.[5]Sogndal Clerical District, Stedje Parish, Norway, Kirkebøker no. B 1, 1878-1899, s. 144, line 8, Margrethe Larsdtr Aabyrge; digital image, Digitalarkivet.no … Continue reading  I decided to double check the entry to see if she was listed as a widow.  Normally, a death entry would say if the deceased was a widow (enke), but in Margrethe’s case, it does not say that.

So I started browsing death and burial records in the 1880s in Sogndal Parish, but found nothing.  Then, I thought – well, maybe he somehow lived to the next big census in 1891.

He did!  The featured image at the top of this post is a portion of his individual page (personsedler) in the 1891 Census.[6]1891 Norway census, 1420 Sogndal Judicial District, Nordre Bergenhus County, population schedule, census district no. 3, house no. 34, s. 1649, Erik Olsen Aabyrge in household of Petter Pettersen … Continue reading  He is listed as a widower receiving care (vilkårmand), born 1801 in Hafslo, residing at Aabyrge Farm parcels lpn. 46haa and 43b with head-of-household Petter Pettersen (son-in-law) and Dorthea Eriksdtr (daughter), plus grandsons Lars and Erik Pettersen.  Erik Olsen would have been 89 years old in 1891.

Unfortunately, I have still been unable to find a death or burial record for Erik.  I perused the entire Sogndal and Stedje parish records for the 1890s looking for a death record and came up empty.  Erik is absent from the 1900 national census.  At least now, however, we know he lived to a very old age.

In addition, his father lived to be 95.  Ole Pedersen Kjørnen (or Venjum) was born in 1751 and died 15 February 1846.[7]Hafslo Clerical District, Hafslo Parish, Norway, Kirkebøker no. A 8, 1834-1852 (1425P), s. 32, line 15, Ole Pedersen Kjørnen; digital image, Digitalarkivet.no … Continue reading  His death record actually claims he was 98.  (Kjørnen may have been the name for Ole Pedersen’s cotter property and was probably a parcel of the main Venjum Farm.)

So, here you have three generations in a row living to at least 89 years old in a relatively poor area of Norway – obviously without access to modern medical services.  I don’t know what the statistical odds are of that happening but it is rare to see anyone living to 89 during that era, much less three of them in a row.  These were very hardy people.  I suspect there are some real longevity genes embedded in our Hafslo line.  It is even more impressive when you factor in their social and economic standing: both Dorthea’s father Erik and grandfather Ole were husmann (cotters or tenant farmers), so even within their own hardscrabble community they were among the poorer folk – at least up until Erik bought the Åbyrge farm in 1849.

(For more background on our Hafslo connection, see my blog post here.)

References

References
1 Hafslo Clerical District, Hafslo Parish, Norway, Kirkebøker no. A 2, 1755-1806 (1425P), s. 262, Erich, son of Ole Kiørnen and Ingebor; digital image, Digitalarkivet.no (https://media.digitalarkivet.no/view/1992/155).
2 Aabyrge Farm (lpn. 40-1), Indre Sogn sorenskriveri, Norway, Panteregister no. II.A.a.26a, 1829-1946, page 135, “Item no. 10: Skjøde fra Lanshandler Foss …,” 13 June 1849; digital image, Digitalarkivet.no (https://media.digitalarkivet.no/en/view/12770/143 : accessed 14 August 2019).
3 Aabyrge Farm (lpn. 40-1), Indre Sogn sorenskriveri, Norway, Panteregister no. II.A.a.26a, 1829-1946, page 135, “Item no. 11: Skjøde fra Erik Olsen …,” 25 October 1865; digital image, Digitalarkivet.no (https://media.digitalarkivet.no/en/view/12770/143 : accessed 14 August 2019).
4 1875 Norway census, 1420P Sogndal Clerical District, population schedule, Stedje Parish, Aabyrge Farm no. 40, s. 299, line 8, Erik Olsen in household of Lars Eriksen; digital image, Digitalarkivet.no (https://media.digitalarkivet.no/view/52303/299 : accessed 16 August 2019).
5 Sogndal Clerical District, Stedje Parish, Norway, Kirkebøker no. B 1, 1878-1899, s. 144, line 8, Margrethe Larsdtr Aabyrge; digital image, Digitalarkivet.no (https://media.digitalarkivet.no/view/6926/36423/7 : accessed 28 June 2019).
6 1891 Norway census, 1420 Sogndal Judicial District, Nordre Bergenhus County, population schedule, census district no. 3, house no. 34, s. 1649, Erik Olsen Aabyrge in household of Petter Pettersen Aaberge; digital image, Digitalarkivet.no (https://media.digitalarkivet.no/view/53004/1649 : accessed 15 August 2019).
7 Hafslo Clerical District, Hafslo Parish, Norway, Kirkebøker no. A 8, 1834-1852 (1425P), s. 32, line 15, Ole Pedersen Kjørnen; digital image, Digitalarkivet.no (https://media.digitalarkivet.no/view/11460/33).