Erik Elvejord, director of public relations for Holland America Line, currently is on Ryndam and went in search of some family history while in Norway.
A Day in Kristiansand: Wednesday, May 9th
With my conversational Norwegian, an old picture, a general idea of where to go and a few other details, I set out today to find my father’s mother’s birthplace and farm house, as well as the gravesites of my relatives. I planned on renting a car but that changed for the better when I spoke with a woman from the visitor’s bureau greeting cruise guests as they left the pier. She asked me what I was trying to do and when I explained I wanted to drive to Sogne to look for the Stausland gård (farm), she said, “I’m from Sogne and know the Stausland gård.”
The Stausland farm is a large, multi-plotted area so it’s not as simple as one farm. I knew it was gård number 18, plot 36. She provided me with the bus number to take and told me to tell the driver I wanted to get off at the old Sogne Church. Across the street she said was a school and they could probably help with the location of the farm. I looked around the graveyard at the church but didn’t find any names. Then, went to the school and asked one man if he knew how to locate the farm. He sent me to the teacher’s lounge and in five minutes they were looking up the number on a farm registry web site. It didn’t show so we looked at maps online and found the farm plot. He printed out a map for me of the page and I headed down the street.
The Stausland gård was about 500 meters from the church and school. I walked down the dirt road where the farm was located and saw a house at the beginning that looked like the picture I had. To be sure I went to the end and came back.
Then, I knocked on the door. While it was my family’s home, the present owners bought the house several years ago. They were not related to me. But they pointed me to a neighbor who was retired and had lived in the area a long time. I went across the street and knocked on his door and proceeded to tell him the same story of why I was there. He knew my two of my great aunts and the story of my great uncle. He provided me with some history that I didn’t know and that my great grandfather built the house around 1860 and his parent’s house that used to be down the street. He drove me back to the church and showed me the gravesites of two of my great aunts and uncle.
My grandmother was the youngest of the family and she passed before I was born. My father didn’t know much of the history. The neighbor also was a caretaker of the church so he opened it up and showed me inside. The church was built about 1630 and as he said, this is where my family were babtized and worshiped. The gentleman dropped me off at the bus stop and I headed back to Kristiansand and the Ryndam after a wonderful day.