Progress Report:  25 May 2001
May 25, 2001:

With the help of Norway-List members, and others, I have some very meaningful leads.  I will see if the information I now have fits with the information on Helfred's birth report when I see that record on micro-film in about one week.  This is what I know at this point:

There is a Syver Madsen, born 1845, located in Ostre Toten in the 1875 census and with wife, Helene OLSDATTER born 1845. They are at Mollerstuen (part of Berg farm). Children Ragna Syversen born 1870, and Ottillia Syversen born 1873.  Helene was born in Hoff sub-parish in Ostre Toten, Syver born in Kolbu Sub parish in Vestre Toten.

On September 30, 1881, leaving for Eau Claire from Oslo were Helene Madsen (age 36); Ragna Madsen (age 11), Otillia Madsen (age 8), Oliana Madsen (age 3), and Alfred Madsen (age 1).  Leaving also with them was Karl Hansen (age 18), maybe Helene's brother?  Or, how about Carl Hanson Frodal, son of Hans Pedersen Frodal and Marie Iversdatter Brendsaterstuen? The age fits for Carl! Freight was prepaid, probably by Syver (and Hans) who were already in America and the Strum area.  All of these passengers were from Toten.

These are all names of Syver and Helene's children. Note that Helfred is Alfred in this account.  A reporting error?  Or, maybe as real a name as Syver's?  Martha and David, the other two children of Syver, were born in America.  What is the chance of there being two families with this name, location, and destination combinations?  This is Syver and Hellene's family.

end of progress report through May 25, 2001.

What we knew before May 25, 2001:

Syver Madsen and Helene Hanson Bjorkebakken were the parents of Helfred Sever Matson, husband of Mary Garson.  We know very little about their lives in Norway, but we are learning more each day.

I am now in the process of researching church records through the LDS Family History Center in Oakdale, Minnesota.  I will be reviewing a micro-film, source call number 1553661.  An Internet search at gave the result that Helfred Sever Matson, (their son), was born on August 31, 1879 in Toten, Oppland, Norway. We knew the birth date of our grandfather, of course,  but are hoping that the record of birth for Helfred, is revealing of other information about Sever and Helene, and other people.

Is it possible that Sever worked, in Norway, on the Bjorkebakken farm? The 1900 census shows that there is a Bjorkebakken farm in Vest Toten - with a Matias Johansen, born 1841, and his wife Matea, and daughter Emma, born 1877, living there.  The 1865 census shows a Syver Madsen, age21, at Alfstad nedre, Ostre Toten. ????

My father, Roy Harold Matson, visited Norway in 1976, and the Toten and Hurdahl areas.  He talked with a local historian, according to his diary, by the name of Paal Gihle   My father recorded that he learned "plenty about Sever" but documented nothing.  Through the help of Geir Thorud, a Norway-List member in Norway, I located Mr. Gihle on May 24, 2001  Mr. Gihle died a few years ago.