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 (https://media.digitalarkivet.no/view/1992/155).  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 image, Digitalarkivet.no (https://media.digitalarkivet.no/en/view/12770/143 : accessed 14 August 2019).  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 image, Digitalarkivet.no (https://media.digitalarkivet.no/en/view/12770/143 : accessed 14 August 2019).  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 (https://media.digitalarkivet.no/view/52303/299 : accessed 16 August 2019).  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 (https://media.digitalarkivet.no/view/6926/36423/7 : accessed 28 June 2019).  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 Aaberge; digital image, Digitalarkivet.no (https://media.digitalarkivet.no/view/53004/1649 : accessed 15 August 2019).  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 (https://media.digitalarkivet.no/view/11460/33).  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   [ + ]

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).