Fallbrook realtor Chris Hasvold traveled to Norway in May to find his ancestors’ home and had an eventful trip, visiting some well-known places, witnessing a national holiday celebration and making the news, both in print and on television.
The journey actually started in 1999 when he was contacted by a relative he did not know. His father was an orphan, so they did not know much about his family history until Vickie Walker Hasvold sent him the genealogy book she had compiled in Iowa.
One of the details Hasvold learned was that his great-grandfather, Lauritz Hasvold, was the first state senator for South Dakota, 1889. He also learned that there was a family farm in Norway, but he didn’t know if any relatives still lived there.
On May 10, Hasvold, his wife Lisa and friends Tom and Michele Monson, Dave and Kim Olsen flew to Amsterdam for a three day stay before making their way to Norway to find his family roots.
Flying up to Trondheim was the beginning of their adventure in Norway. After a few days there, they headed south toward Lillehammer when they stopped in the little town of Ringebu for a break. They spotted a line up of tractors decorated with Norwegian flags headed their way.
It was May 17 (aka Syttende Mai) – Norway’s Constitution Day – a national day of celebration. The group of Americans saw four parades that day including all the local residents wearing their traditional outfits called bunad. They talked to a group of teenage girls, asking them about their clothing.
A local reporter heard the exchange, took some photos of the two groups together and interviewed the Americans as she was fascinated that they were interested in local history. They then drove to Lillehammer where the clerk at their hotel surprised them the following morning with a copy of the local newspaper featuring the article about their experience the day before; “you guys are famous,” he said as he gave them a copy to take home.
While in Lillehammer, they were able to visit the Olympic village and climb up the 963 steps to the top of the ski jump ramp. From there, they set off to find Hasvold farm somewhere north of Oslo. Of course, GPS took them the long way around to their destination, not knowing what they would find.
There was a big white colonial house overlooking a lake and a gentleman on a tractor in the field next door, Chris Hasvold said. His wife went over to the field to flag down the tractor driver. She asked him, “Is this Hasvold farm?” He said, “I am Olaf Hasvold.” When Chris explained why they were there and what he knew of his ancestors, Olaf told him, “our great-great-great-grandfathers were brothers.”
They talked for 45 minutes, taking pictures and exchanging email addresses. They were starting to leave when he came back over to them and invited them into his house which he is restoring. Built in 1849, the house contains a lot of old family belongings.
Olaf brought some old photos down from upstairs to show to his visitors who noticed an old Bible with thick leather binding. When they looked inside, some papers filled with handwritten notes popped out; it was a list of family members going back to 1701! There were also portraits of some of those relatives hanging on one wall of the house.
As Olaf’s regular job is in equipment rentals, he just happened to be home planting corn when they stopped by, so it was good timing. After they left, Chris received a Facebook friend request from Olaf who told him they should stay with him when they come back. While they had accomplished their goal, the adventure was not over.
In Bergen, they bought tickets to ride the funicular up the mountain to see the city from up above. There was a television news crew getting on the rail car; they were there to film a promo for Opera Week. An opera singer boarded the same car and sang most of the way up the mountain. A few of the Amerians were interviewed when they reached the top and they were on the local news that night!
After their land trip, the group took a cruise along the coast. Some of their favorite excursions were kayaking in Alesund harbor and driving Ecars up the mountain in Geiranger where they also took a boat tour in the fjord over to the Seven Sisters Waterfall which had just started flowing again (when the snow started melting).
They also enjoyed moose stew in Lillehammer, reindeer sausage in Bergen, organic apple cider in Ulvik and the best fish & chips in Alesund but didn’t care for the whale meat they tried somewhere else. They also said, “The people were wonderful and friendly.”
Dave Olsen’s ancestors came from Tromso in Northern Norway and his wife really wants to see the Northern Lights, so the group may be returning to Norway for more adventures in the future.