Saturday, January 1, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity at MNGS ~ Saturday Night Genealogy Fun

Randy Seaver (of GeneaMusings) asked us to share our very best genealogical adventure of 2010 - well let's see.  I had a few great genealogical adventures last year.  During the winter and spring, I spent time in Minnesota visiting family and really made an effort to take advantage of the great resources to be found at the Minnesota Genealogical Society, the various County Genealogical Societies (hats off to Carver County - your facility and personnel are top notch!), the Minneapolis Central Library, the University of Minnesota (at Minneapolis) libraries, and the MNGS library on Swedish Day, Norwegian Day, and Irish Day (at least once a month).  The volunteers who staff the MNGS library on those days (and provide quarterly presentations) are simply the best. 

That said ~ the very best genealogical adventure of 2010 was meeting up with a very nice couple who volunteered their time in the Spring of 2010 when I attended "Swedish Day" at the MNGS library.  After I got some help with my Swedish research, I asked if anyone was familiar with Norwegian research and was told (good naturedly) that they had a few Norwegians who showed up on Swedish Day (usually with their Swedish spouses).

I asked my Norwegian volunteer about emigration records as I had been unable to find any records for my Eriksen ancestors leaving Norway and/or arriving in the USA.  We discussed the fact that my Eriksens left in 1865 (apparently only a few months before the 1865 census and the start of really thorough emigration records).  During my SLIG 2010 trip I found my Eriksen family information in the Stjordal bygdgebok (mentioned in a previous post) and found various family members in the US and Minnesota censuses maintained at and  However, I remained stymied trying to find anything about the Eriksens' departure or arrival.

My Norwegian volunteer commiserated with me and then mentioned that there were some websites with ship and passenger transcriptions and offered to show me how to check out those sites.  She also showed me her family's information so I would have some idea of how the site worked.  We took a look Norway Passenger Lists and she input her family name and ship's arrival date.  We took a look at the passenger list and she scrolled through it to give me some idea of the type of information you could find.  Imagine my surprise to find my Eriksen family on the exact same ship!  I literally got chills and we were both thrilled with our discovery! 
I had checked out the website before. Why hadn't I been able to find my Eriksens? Here is what their entries looked like in the passenger transcription ~

Peder Eriksen and his family were tenant farmers on a small farm in Lillekleven.  The bygdeboks I reviewed at the FHL provided information regarding the farm, the town and the family members.  What I learned through the Norway Heritage Passenger Lists was that the village name was listed in the index as their surname.  I never would have found them by using the index with the surname Eriksen!  (A big thank you to Sue Swiggum who transcribed the Bergen's passenger list in 2000)

I learned that my Eriksens departed Trondheim on 14 May 1865 aboard the bark Bergen and arrived in Quebec on 3 Jul 1865. As a bonus, I learned that Mail's sister Gurine Pedersdatter traveled with the Eriksen family. I am still searching for Eriksens' arrival in the USA and their first years in Minnesota, but how lucky was I to happen to meet up with someone whose ancestors traveled from Norway to the new World with my ancestors.  That is the definition of Genealogy Serendipity and my very best genealogy adventure!

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