Christen's Baptism Record (1790)Christen was born early 1790 at Dalen under Herland Farm in Svarstad in the Lardal parish of Vestfold. Christen's parents were Jon Andersen Dalen and Ingebor Olsdatter. His baptism occurred on the 11 Jul 1790 at Svarstad Church. Witnesses were Helene Pedersdatter Jerneland, Helvig Matthisdatter Dalen, Eric Kielsen Dalen and Peder Jensen Rennedalen.1
Christen's parents were peasant farmers, otherwise known as crofters, helping out on farms until their assistance wasn't needed and then moving to the next farm. This pattern can be seen throughout the first few years of Christen's life as each record for the family lists them under a new name or farm. They start in Herland farm in 17901 then at Kraakemo farm in 17912, working their way north to Hem farm in 17933 and then a major relocation to Hedensrud farm in Drammen in 1797.4
Drammen is split into two boroughs: Strømsø to the south of the river and Bragernes to the north. The family attended Tangen church in Strømsø, about 4 km directly north of the nearby town of Skoger.
Christen's Confirmation (1808)Looking at the 1801 census, we find Christen with his family on the Hedensrud farm in Skoger. Father Jon is noted to be a laborer living with his wife Ingebor and their children Kristen, 11, Ole, 10, and Simen, 6.5 Christen also had another brother, Anders, who died just shy of 3 years old in 1800.6
Two years later in 1803, 6 days after Christen's 13th birthday to be exact, his father Jon dies at the age of 56 years old. The family is still living on the Hedensrud farm in Drammen.7
It seems this event forced Christen to grow up quick when he appears to have left home at this time seeking work. It's our next record that we finally find him living in Sande, Vestfold. Here, at 18 years old, Christen receives his confirmation on the 26 Jun 1808 under the name Christen Johnsen Nordre Weeberg, now known as Veberg Farm. No parents or age is listed.8 Christen was abnormally old for a child receiving their confirmation. Since girls weren't expected to have jobs the way boys were, the range of ages girls were when they were confirmed varied far more than boys, but Christen's class would have been with boys ages 13-14 years and most girls 14-15 years with occasionally a 16 year old or two.C
Christen Weds Dorthe (1824)Three years later, Christen marries for the first time on 15 Dec 1811 in Sande to wife Aase Olsdatter.9 Interestingly enough, the following day Aase gives birth to their first child, daughter, Gurine Christensdatter at Bjerke farm.10
It appears Christen continued in the crofter lifestyle that his father lived. Christen and Aase would have two more children, Ingeborg in 1814 at Stranden Farm11, and Olia in 1817 at Nedre Simenstad farm.12 In between, the family is listed on the 1815 census at Østre Ruud farm in Sande.13
Aase would pass away at Braathen under Nedre Simenstad on 20 Jul 1817, four months after Olia's birth.14
Around this time Christen's brother Ole would relocate from Skoger to join his brother in Sande. Christen would be noted as a sponsor/godparent for the birth of Ole's son Anders in 1823. Christen was living under Stokke farm at the time.15
The two brothers would stay close and Christen is listed as a sponsor for each of the five children born to Ole. The same goes for Ole as he appeared as a sponsor for each of Christen's children (when listed).
It's while living at Stokke farm where the church book for Sande shows that Christen Johnsen Stokke-eiet and Dorthe Olsdatter were married 29 Oct 1824. The Best Men were Halvor Larsen Dyet and Lars Pedersen Dyet. Christen was listed a widower, born 1792, while Dorthe was listed as single and born 1790. Dorthe is described as coming from Eiker and that she had been living at Eikeberg farm since 1808.16
Christen and Dorthe had four children we know of:
JOHANNE MARIA , born 30 Jun 1825 at Gravningen Farm in Sande. SponsorsA: Dorthe Halvorsdatter Donnerrud, Birthe Andersdatter Hertzgården, Ole Johnsen Stokke-eiet, Anders Bertelsen Tangen and Thore Thoresen.17 Johanne was confirmed 1840.18 She has since had the farm Kvisle in Sande added to her name.
CHRISTOPHER , born 19 May 1828 at Orhus farm in Sande. Sponsors: Marthe Dyresdatter Oreberg, Birthe Hellene Hansdatter Stokke, Ole Johnsen Stokke-eiet, Ole Tollisen Stokke and Peder Andersen Oreberg.19
JOHN, born on 21 Jan 1830 at Orhus farm in Sande. There were complications with his birth and the baptism register notes that for whatever the reason, he passed away. No date of death is listed.20
KAREN OLAVA, born 21 Nov 1833B at Orhus farm in Sande. She was baptized at home, which normally occurred when there was a fear the child might survive long enough to be baptized in the church. Karen died before age of confirmation.21
Christen Johnsen Death (1833)Christen died on 09 Apr 1833 at Orhus farm in Sande at the age of 42.22 All said and done, Christen's crofter lifestyle has documented him as living at 12 separate farms throughout his life... and I'm certain there were more in the many years of his life that were not documented.
Dorthe died on the 21 Dec 1851 at the age of 62 in Sande.25
The above is a modified and expanded translation from the book "Forfedrene Og Vi" by Sigfred L. Eier. Published in Svelvik, Norway in 1942. Sigfred was a freelance writer for the Svelviksposten local newspaper, a local historian for the towns of Svelvik & Strommen, a family historian, and cousin to Christoffer Christoffersen Lowe. Sigfred also established the town museum in Svelvik.
Jon Andersen Dalen, 21 May 1747 - 19 Jun 1803
Ingebor Olsdatter Schierven, 21 May 1761 - ?
Aase Olsdatter, abt 1789 - 20 Jul 1817
- Gurine Christensdatter, 16 Dec 1811 – ?
- Ingeborg Christensdatter, 12 Sep 1814 – 15 Dec 1891
- Olia Christensdatter, 30 Mar 1817 – ?
Dorthe Olsdatter Orhuus, 1789 - 21 Dec 1851
- Johanne Maria Christensdatter, 30 Jun 1825 – ?
- Christoffer Christensen, 19 May 1828 – 25 Oct 1878
- John Christensen, 21 Jan 1830 – 1830
- Karen Olava Christensdatter, 21 Nov 1833 – 11 Dec 1833
A Commonly translated as “Godparents” or “Mentors”, sponsors at this time served a similar purpose as they do today, however it was not common to see just 2 names listed. In this case there are 5.
B This date is not confirmed by the local parish register. The Church book says she was born 13 NOV 1833 however there is a lot of small writing scribbled in the margins that is illegible to me.
C Confirmation was a right of passage for children. Required by the government, a child wasn't supposed to be able to obtain work until they had been confirmed. It's likely that a combination of Christen's constant movement, his relocation by himself, and that Sande is a rural area allowed him to work without being confirmed as long as he did.