Ole Hansen: Hellene Madsen's Father, Older
This is Ole Hansen, Hellene Madsen's (Syver's Wife) Father.  This is a pretty tough looking person.  Or, maybe more reasonably, it looks as though this was a hard working relative.  My belief is that Ole Hansen and his wife, Ragnild Juulsdatter, did not come to America.  This picture was likely taken in Norway.  Married 31 August 1832 with Ole age 21 and Ragnild age 19, they were born about 1811 and 1813 respectively.

This is a picture of my Father's Great Grandpa Bjerkebakken.  That was the name that our family tagged him with.  I doubt anyone knew that his real name was Ole Hansen.  That revelation came from my research.

When it comes to Norwegian words and names, sound is more important than exact spelling.  For instance, Bjorkebakken may be spelled Birklebakken, Bjerkebaken, or such. Probably all the same farm.  Bjerkebakken means, "birch hill".  Indications are that there was such a farm in Ostre Toten.  Helene's given name, in the same way, may be found with varied spellings.  Norway relied on sounds in transcribing information before about 1900.  There was no official dictionary.

At first, I understood from family that Hellene's full name was Helene Hansen Bjorkebakken.  After further research, and on finding Ole, her father, I learned she was Hellene Olsdtr in early life.  Probably on coming to America, she carried her Father's surname (Hansen) and also the name of a farm (Bjerkebakken).  I thought Bjorkebakken or Bjerkebakken or whatever spelling, may have been her last residence.  That was common. However, information as of 20 July 2001 suggests something quite different.

Hellene, who was Christened, HELLENE, may have attached her birth farm to her name on coming to America.  We know from ship records that she was Helene Madsen upon leaving Oslo for America.  But, Parish records, Hof Parish in Ostre Toten, list the residence of her parents, Ole Hansen and Ragnhild Juulsdatter, at the time of her (Hellene's) birth, as BJERKEBAKKEN.  Actually, Bjerkebakken is a sub-farm of a main farm, Braendsaeter (ae=norwegian combined letter).

Such is the solution to the mystery of Hellene's full name, Hellene Hansen (for her Father) Bjerkebakken (for her farm of birth). 





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