Thursday, October 4, 2012

My Norwegian Family: The Stangelands

This post is my father's unedited, genealogical research of the Stangelands, my paternal grandmother's family, which dates back to the early 1400's. He sent this document to every known descendant of this family back in the late 1990's. This document was one of the reasons I became interested in genealogy and carrying on his research, both on my father's Norwegian side of the family and the German/Italian side of my mother. This document was a huge help, and on, I was able to confirm that his information was correct.
Notes: Genealogical practice in developing family trees is to follow the line of eldest son to eldest son to eldest son, and so on. In the Stangeland Family there is a direct line of eldest sons from Øystein Askildson to Andreas Kristiansen. From Andreas the direct line would be through Lars Stangeland, who had both a son and grandson. So that the rest of us can continue our family histories, I am showing other of Andreas’ children as being directly in line.

Note that the surname of each child is his father’s first name, plus sen or son (son of), or datter (daughter of) Sometimes the farm location is added (Hompland, Maudal). This practice continued until the 19th century, when surnames were fixed. In this family tree you will see that father’s first name plus sen or son continues through to Andreas Kristiansen, my great-grandfather. His children all took Stangeland, the location of the family farm, as their surname. The practice of father’s first name plus sen continues in Iceland to this day.

Pre-Family: The first recorded history in Norway was in the late 700's. Vikings were active from 793 to about 1200. The country was unified by Harald Hårfagre about 900 in a battle outside of Stavanger, making him the first King of Norway. In 995, Olaf I brought Christianity to Norway and Olaf II (St. Olaf) strengthened its foundation in 1016.

Dynastic wars weakened the country by 1270, with Germans establishing important trading operations in Bergen and other cities. From 1320 to 1513 Norway was ruled by Kings of Denmark and Sweden, and from 1513 to 1814, by Denmark alone, and then to 1905 by Sweden. On May 17, 1905, Norway declared its independence.

The Black Death was carried on a ship arriving in Bergen in 1349. The effect on isolated farming communities was devastating; estates could not be maintained when workers were dying everywhere. Norway’s population declined one-half, to 180,000.

Denmark levied heavy taxes on the population, and collectors rode to farms for produce in lieu of cash. The Roman Catholic Church was consolidated with the Government, and owned and controlled much of the country. 

The Stangeland Family – 1430

In each of us there is a drop of blood and some genes from Øystein Askildson and Maurits Fintland.

Øystein Askildson owned the farm in Hompland, in Fintland, in Sirdal commune (county), just across the border from Rogaland commune, where are located Stavanger, Kleppe and Maudal. In 1469, because of misconduct toward his local priest and for living in an immoral way, according to Diplomatarium Norvegicum (a large collection of Middle Age letters), Askildson had to mortgage his property to the church (Catholic). The mortgage was paid in full by Maurits Fintland’s grandsons.

It is difficult to get earlier information because many records were lost or destroyed when Lutheranism replaced Catholicism in 1563. Øystein Askildson’s connection to Maurits Fintland in unknown, but as rights to the farm descended to Maurits and his descendents, it can be acknowledged that Askildson was the first known man in our family.

Maurits Fintland is mentioned in the 1519 and 1521 censuses as the only person listed in the part of the Sirdal valley which lay within Stavanger county. In addition to the Hompland farm, he owned the farms in Maudal and property in Bjerkreim. In addition to the two sons listed below, quite possibly the families living in on Fintland, Finsnes, Lindland and Osen are also descendants of Maurits.

A county court judgement in 1574 recognized that Maurits’s sons Kjetil and Tollak were valid heirs to Maurits’s property. The 1563 census shows Tollak living on Hompland: In later years he was called Tollak Lindland. Kjetil is listed in the 1575 census, on Hompland.

Maurits Tollefson Maudal was born on Osen in Sirdal in Fintland, and moved to Øvre Maudal in 1603. He was the owner of Øvre Maudal, Austrumdal, one quarter of Nedre Maudal, and had shares of Hovland, Espeland and Nevland. In 1603 and 1612 he paid taxes of one dollar and, in 1624, five marks (all in coin). He also paid, in 1624, measures of butter in Maudal, Øverbo and Austrumdal, and corn in Espeland and Hovland. He was listed in the census of 1617. 

Anna’s paternal family all lived in Øvre Maudal: Her maternal line lived in Ims, Mele, Ims in Høle, Froyland in Riska, Mele in Forsand, and Øvre Bjørheim. In 1660 her grandparents were married in the church in Høle. Movement like this is surprising, until it is realized that in large families children had to leave home to find work. 
Marita’s parents were married in 1686 in the church in Høle. Her paternal family came from Nedre Espedal, Frafjord, N. Rossavik, Kristi Frafjord, Rossavik and Kjosavik. 
I visited the Stangeland farm in August, 1996. The farm is now owned by Martin Stangeland (no relation) who has 20 dairy cattle, sheep, chickens, and grows corn and wheat. Martin pointed out some low buildings on the slope below his house and barn and said that was where our Stangeland family lived and worked for four generations. He said that other families also lived in the buildings and that everyone lived communally. 
This new information about Johanna being Andreas’ mother came from KLEPP GARDS- OG ÆTTESOGA, which states that Johanna was a 23-year old “gjente”, which translates to housemaid. Family consensus now is that after ten years of marriage to Berta without child (the first marriage was to Ingeborg, who died after one year) Kristian was 40 years old, and very much wanted a child. So, he and Berta apparently made a contract with Johanna for her to bear Kristian’s child. She did so, giving birth to Andreas, and after completing nursing him, gave him to Berta, who raised him as her own. When Andreas was 13, Berta died, and Kristian married Elen two years later. The contract apparently was kept secret: Peder’s daughters believed Berta was their great-grandfather and Gerhard (George) told his granddaughter that his grandmother was Elen. 

Andreas Kristiansen
A family comment about this news - Johanna had good genes, implying “Look at us all now!”. After giving up the infant, Johanna left the household and married soon after. She had a number of children, all of whom emigrated to America. She lived in Kleppe her entire life, and apparently had good relations with Kristian and Berta. 
When Kristian died, one-half of the farm was given to Andreas and one-quarter each to his step-brothers. Since to farm one-quarter of the rocky farm was not viable, each sold his portion to Andreas. Lars emigrated to Iowa, worked on a homesteader’s farm, married the daughter, and inherited an enormous, rich farm when the father died. Johannes emigrated to Oregon. 

When Andreas Kristiansen left the farm and moved to Stavanger the communal arrangement that had existed was broken up and everyone separated. The reason Andreas moved to Stavanger was that he had been raising beef cattle and sheep, and would slaughter them and take then to the market in Stavanger. He saw an opportunity to be a full-time butcher, and so decided to move his family to Stavanger for that purpose.

From 1825 to 1925, 800,000 persons left Norway, mostly for North America. Included were the three sons and three daughters of Andreas Kristiansen indicated above with an asterisk. As a result of this mass migration there are more people of Norwegian ancestry living outside of Norway (5 million) than there are today in Norway (4.3 million). The impact of the migration of mostly younger persons resulted in labor shortages today, compelling the Government to encourage immigration of foreign refugees to Norway. Immigrants from over 100 countries now live and work in Norway. 

Note the birth and death dates of Gina. All birth dates were copied from Andreas’ family bible by Anne Mae Gunstrom Alter, the granddaughter of Maren. The bible is in the hands of Anne Marie Drange in Stavanger. I have the letter that the Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco sent to my aunt, Clara Stangeland Endresen. The letter states that Gina died December 21, 1991. Gina died exactly one month short of 110 years of age. I visited Gina in the hospital, with my wife and son, in September, 1989, when she was 107. She remembered me and my mother, and asked how was Mrs. Ambrose. 

Alfrida emigrated from Norway when she was 17. Her mother had died, her father was planning to re-marry, and she did not like her prospective step-mother. Her grandfather Andreas, to the chagrin of her father, suggested that she go to Syracuse, New York where she had two aunts and two uncles. Andreas said if she remained in Norway she would become the surrogate mother to her two younger sisters. Alfrida did so, sailing to Montreal enroute to Syracuse. 

Alfrida met Edwin Ambrose, born in Horten, Norway, at a Norwegian Lodge in Syracuse. Edwin had served one compulsory year in the Norwegian Navy, then completed a two-tear program at Horten Technical Institute, where he learned to be a draftsman. Since there were no employment opportunities in Norway, he sailed to Montreal and to Massena, N.Y., where he heard there was work in Syracuse. He found a job, and was employed all during the depression. Edwin was born as Øivind Ambrosiusen, son of Martinus Ambrosiusen and Hilda Hansen. He anglicized his name to simplify his life. He worked 35 years for the Solvay Process Company, a division of Allied Chemical Corporation. 


  1. I love your page, good job!
    I am researching ragnhild mettine Knudson who is from Staneland

  2. Church and religious value are the most holy thing I ever felt. The church financing in USA products are designed to serve various financial need of churches.

  3. I am so impressed with your research, Gina Stangeland

  4. Looking for info on my paternal grandmother Clara Christine Stangland, who immigrated to the states in 1920.

  5. This is so cool. I have been doing some research on Ancestry and was able to date quite a ways back as well. I didn't find an Andreas so maybe this is a different Stangeland family tree? The first Stangeland I could find is from the Andersen's (Hans)who changed his name from Andersen to Stangeland

  6. Hello there. I searched about and came across this article. My surname is FINTLAND, now live in Southern California. My fathers parents came thru State of Washington and then soem Fintlands went to New York City ( thats my dads side) and soem in Los Angeles