Advice on unmerged match Olsdatter-2292 & Spartvedt-1?

+3 votes
This may be a duplicate question. I asked it a couple of hours ago but it never showed up in the feed.

Anyway, I've been adding Norwegian ancestors this weekend, and when I added my g-g-g-grandmother, a match appeared. To me, it looks like a true match, but the other profile has a different spouse and child attached. I created an unmerged match but would like to attach the profile I created to the parents who are attached to the other profile.

I left a message on that profile, asking if the PM has sources for the marriage and the child. So far, the only source for that profile is the 1801 census of Norway, which shows her with her father and stepmother.

I wasn't able to find a source for my subject's birth, but I have a marriage record and baptism records for each of her children,

Any suggestions?
WikiTree profile: Anna Blekre
in Genealogy Help by Leslie Torkelson G2G6 (8.5k points)
Are you sure about a current last name of 'Blekre'?  There's not one source with that.  Seems to me it should still be 'Olsdatter'.
It was my understanding that the current last name for Norwegians was the last farm they lived in, which in Anna's case would be the Blekre farm. The sources are the baptism records for her children with Zakarias Jacobsen Blekre.
The standard here on WikiTree for (19th century and prior) Norwegians is to use the patronymic as LNAB and the last farm name as Current Last Name. This keeps everything searchable.
Using the "Current Last Name" for the farm name is the recommended practice, but personally I prefer to put the farm name in the "Other Last Names" field. I don't like the implication that people are somehow married to a farm. The farm name is nothing but an address, used casually for keeping one Ole Olsen from the other. It is not a surname. The patronym is not a surname either, but it's at least the same from the cradle to the grave.
Whichever is fine, although I'll point out that the field is called "Current Last Name", not "Married last name", even though that's how it most often gets used ;)

But yeah, none of these things are actual last names, just us stuffing other cultures into Anglo-shaped boxes haha

First, I'll certainly defer to whatever the Norway Project decides, and second, I completely appreciate the difficulties of trying to conform other naming structures into the current Anglo forms.  But what Leif suggested has a logical consistency that this Anna record does not.  Some points:

  • There are 8 sources attached, and not one has the word 'Blekre' included.  All 8 identify her as 'Anna Olsdatter' (or minor variation).  Unless another source appears, it seems far preferable that she be displayed as 'Anna Olsdatter', and it's certainly better for searching purposes too.
  • 'Spartvedt' is placed in the 'Other Last Names' field, which seems reasonable, and therefore it seems reasonable that 'Blekre' too should be there, on the same level.  Instead, it's in 'Current Last Name', which *replaces* the LNAB(!), and that's not right.  'Blekre' never appears in any source, is only added by inference.  And 'Olsdatter' cannot be replaced, remains part of her name forever.
  • I'm fully aware of the difficulties of a too-common name like 'Anna Olsdatter', as I have one myself, and there are trees out there that have her with 3 different husbands.  I've shied away from dealing with her, as I cannot tell for sure whether there are 1, 2, or 3 Anna's.  From the dates, all are plausible.
  • All 8 sources have her in 'Vats,Rogaland,Norway', including the 1801 Census.  I assume Vats is plausible for the Blekre and Spartvedt farms?
Leslie, I'm not criticizing your work, I know you're trying to fit round things into square holes.  But "Anna Blekre formerly Olsdatter" bothers me, just seems wrong.  I like "Anna Olsdatter aka Blekre, Spartvedt" better.  But Eric, I'll defer to whatever y'all decide.
To me, the important bit is "patronym as LNAB". If Norway Project wants to tweak the guidance to say all farm names go in "other names" (unless it also happens to be the name they chose as surname upon emigration), I'd be totally cool with that. I think we could do some quick consensus in the group and make that change fairly quickly.

And as long as the patronym is the LNAB, I'll never harp on anyone for putting all farm names in Other Last Name(s) and nothing in Current Last Name. I completely agree with y'all that farm names do not "replace" patronyms as the WT name automation implies.

FWIW, I did double-check and both Blekre (128) and Spaatveit (126, note the different spelling) are listed in Vats according to Oluf Rygh. Note that Vats is listed under Stavanger county.

@ Rob, "Anna Olsdatter aka Spartvedt, Blekre" would be even better, as the addresses are put in chronological order.

I like your remark about "trying to fit round things into square holes" - that's exactly what it feels like all the time when I'm entering my Norwegian profiles here. It's no wonder that there's so few Norwegians here, and most seem to give up quickly. I'd do the same, if there was a free and non-profit alternative, with an equally great community. For fifteen years I have been entering data into a self-designed database with proper fields for patronymics, farm names, cognomens, and whatever. But I've reached the point where I see that my data will disappear along with me, if I don't put them in a place where they have a chance of survival. That's why I'm here.

And @ Eric, I think that we're in total agreement. The important bit is "patronym as LNAB".

The conversation you all have been having today while I was at work has been instructive and entertaining, and I'm grateful for every contribution. Here are my responses, in no particular order.

I'm okay with putting Blekre in the "other last names" category in Anna's case (or in every case). I only made it the current last name because that was what the Norway Project suggested. I've read several g2g posts which hashed out the question of Norwegian naming; there were many different points of view, all with valid reasons, but I can't say I formed a strong opinion of my own.

The only area where I've diverged from using the patronym as LNAB is the male Blekre line, first of all because my family owned the Blekre farm for at least 200 years, but mostly because they brought that name over with them when they emigrated. It was my mother's maiden name, and it's so rare in the U.S. that any Blekre here is a pretty close cousin of mine.

I asked the question in the first place partly because Anna Olsdatter is such a common name. In fact, most, if not all, the unsourced trees I've seen elsewhere claim that Zakarias Jakobsen's mother was also Anna Olsdatter. I would like to attach Anna to her parents at some point, but I'd rather leave her an orphan than attach her to the wrong parents.

I may take too much for granted when I find trees on Ancestry that were created by Norwegians (especially when they match my DNA). Also, these people were farmers, not aristocrats. I can't imagine anyone wanting to graft their family onto my family's tree. So, in my zeal to connect my Norwegian lines to the larger tree, I may have been less than rigorous in my research.  

Thanks again for all the information and constructive criticism. I appreciate it!
No worries on the rigor--we've all had to learn that other people's family trees are not written in stone. As for being too eager, there's always room for Research Notes and relationship statuses (e.g., marking a parent-child relationship as "uncertain").

2 Answers

+4 votes
Best answer
I had to dig a little more into this family, and looked up the Vats Bygdebok at Nasjonalbiblioteket. It looks like a very thoroughly researched work. On page 436-437 is found the daughter of Ole Olsen and Maria Olsdatter, and the author says that Anna Olsdatter was married to "Ellev Hansen Fion, Sveio".

So I looked up Sakarias Jacobsen, and found him on page 464, where he is told to have been married to Anna Olsdatter Sjurseike 1791-1845. She is found on page 308 as daughter of Ole Valentinsen Svanesvold 1728-99 and Malene Endresdatter Sandnes 1761-1819. You find Anna here in 1801:

Malene is married again to Bjørn Nielsen.

I can send you a few images of the pages, just drop me a pm with your email address.
by Leif Biberg Kristensen G2G6 Pilot (114k points)
selected by Leslie Torkelson

I looked at the family tree for your ancestor Jacob Olsen Blekre. There seems to be quite some inbreeding here, but that wasn't unusual in those narrow Vestland fjords. And then it's no wonder about your DNA matches.

Ole Valentinsen Siurseiche was buried 21 March 1799, 76 years old. Skjold parish register 1743-1802, unpaginated, chronological list. See upper right corner:

Vats is a subparish of Skjold. The entry doesn't say if he's buried in Vats, but I'd suppose so. And I don't think that he's from Stavanger.
Thank you for clearing that up! Ole Valentinsen and Malene Endresdatter sounded familiar, so I hunted for them and discovered, just as you said, that I'm descended from two of their children! Trying to sort out the marriages of cousins always makes my eyes cross. And I can see that I need to educate myself about Norwegian geography.

Thank you again for doing all this work! I will pm you soon about those pages.
+2 votes
I don't know anything about families in this part of Norway, but I know that Anne (or Anna) Olsdatter is an extremely common name. After collecting data for twenty years, I've got dozens of unconnected Anne Olsdatters in my one-place study database. Several of them ought to be the same person, but it's often impossible to say who's who. I've found that it's better to leave them with a note that one Anne Olsdatter may be identical to another Anne Olsdatter, just like you have done. Merging two Anne Olsdatters will far too often later be demonstrated as premature.

One other thing: You write that "Anna Olsdatter Spartvedt was born on the Spartvedt farm in Rogaland, Norway about 1785". How can you know that when you don't have her parents or her christening?
by Leif Biberg Kristensen G2G6 Pilot (114k points)
I got the information from some trees on Ancestry. I know, I know, that's not evidence. But I've checked them out and discovered a few things. One is that most of the members with those trees are DNA matches of mine (distant cousins), and they're descended from different children of Anna and Zakarias. Many of them are still in Norway, so I'm pretty sure there's no other connection.

Also, I think there is a christening record somewhere. I just can't find it. She does show up with her parents on the Spartvedt farm in the 1801 census, which is where the "about 1785" comes from.

Thanks for the advice. I'll just leave things the way they are and see what develops.

I suspect that the other Anne Olsdatter, wife of Ellev Hansen, may indeed be the one you are looking for, but incorrectly married. Almost the only way to find out is if there's a probate after one of Anne's parents from after her marriage; her husband's name will usually be recorded there. Or if she's got siblings who died without their own offspring.

Unfortunately, probates can be hard to find, but if you know the death years of her parents, the probate will mostly be held in a matter of weeks after the burial. I've even seen probates held before the burial date.

Probates are veritable goldmines for Norwegian genealogy; they invariably reveal proofs about relationships not found anywhere else.

It seems likely these are different Anne Olsdatter and at least one of them have the wrong parent attached. Checking the secondary source, the bygdebok, listed for one of them to see if it has marriage dates that were left out, and what details are actually from there, and how much is independent, possibly flawed, research would be the next step.

But that has to be done by someone with access to the book, which could be anyone with a Norwegian IP-address or the ability to fake one and time to look it up, which I don't right now.
@Leif, you must be Norwegian! At first I thought, "Ooh, probate records!" And then I thought about the difficulties involved in trying to read probates in Norwegian, and I died a little. I know a tiny smattering of genealogically useful Norwegian words, which I tend to have to relearn every time I take a break and then return to that side of my family (or, more accurately, those sides, since both my grandfathers were of Norwegian descent).

Do you have any suggestions for an American who knows only one language, in regards to these probate treasure troves?
Sorry, no. But bygdeboks are usually the next best things, as their authors regularly have been looking up the probates.

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