August 12, 2008

Overwhelmed, gratified, grateful and very tired

A truly extraordinary, gratifying, enlightening and almost overwhelming day. I can barely gather my thoughts -so much transpired. I will, however, share some facts - in fairness to Dave who has inspired/directed so much of my search. I have definitive answers to a number of your questions, plus some additional info we didn't have before. I also have photocopied entries for everything from the Hedrum Bygdebok (1913) and the Tjølling Bygdebok (1915) both by Lorens Berg who is considered THE authority on local history.

Here goes:
Kristen Tolstrup was a kind of high-level secretary for the ironworks at Hagnes (north of Hedrum and a sort of subsidiary of the Larvik ironworks). He died in 1830 at the age of 77 and was married to Mari Mattisdatter Skoli, who died in 1857, age 75. About Kristen's origins, the Hedrum Bygdebok entry says: "Han var Dansk (fra landsbyen Tolstrup ved Aalborg)"
Kristen and Mari's children are listed as:
1. Line Magreta Tolstrup g. m. Hans Ivarssøn Hagnes
2. Kristen Tolstrup, blev sjømand, døde i 24 aars alder
3. Mattis Tolstrup, blev skipper, bodde i Rekkevik i Tjøllng
4. Maren Petrine Tolstrup, g. m. Jakob Hanssøn
5. Else Katrine Tolstrup, egtet Ivar Nilssøn Gunnerød
Kristen also had another son - before he married Mari - apparently illegitimate, named Per Tolstrup who wrote a book about his life in 1855 (I'm going to see if I can track it down)
The entry reads: "- Hammerskriver Tolstrup hadde før han indgik egteskap sønnen Per Tolstrup, sjømand og skipper. Efter at ha faret tilsjøs i 50 aar bodde han som gammel ungkar fra 1855 av paa Hagnes. Han har skildret sit sjømansliv i en godt skreven liten bok: Peder Christensen's Levnetsbeskrivelse, forfattet af ham selv, efter i 50 Aar at have faret tilsøes fra Skibsdreng og til Skibsfører. Laurvig 1855"
Aine suggested that I visit the Hedrum Historielag - where I can find out more. She also says that it's very possible that because Kristen was a high-level employee, there's probably a lot of information recorded about him - including his date of arrival in Norway. She also says that Danish records are very good and that we should be able to trace his line back further now that we know where to look. She also said that Mattis was a ship's captain and, that being the case, there are likely to be records about the ships he sailed.

There's much more, Dave...but the rest will have to wait until I see you and/or can gather my wits.
So, meanwhile, and after such an amazing few hours of discovery, I felt inspired to walk out to Rekkevik to Tolstrupveien to see what else I could find.

First off, it felt pretty otherworldly to actually walk down a road called Tjøllingveien, to pass signs for Tjølling, Rekkevik, Kaupang (we had to get some Viking stuff in here) and then to arrive at Tolstrupveien. The areas I passed on the way were all pretty modern (I'd say even post 1960), so I was hoping against hope that at least some sense of the original lay of the land would still be apparent.

Then, there, off to the right and winding slightly up a hill, was Tolstrupveien. Large granite cliffs loom over one side of the street and the houses, for the most part, seemed turn-of-the-century at the earliest. Up ahead, I saw a house that looked to be - perhaps - the original Tolstrup farm - which turned out to be two houses, side by side built high above the road and to be built, almost, out of the cliff face.
As I was looking around and taking photos of absolutely everything - trees, rocks, dirt, bugs, thistle, the sky, my shoes - (the neighbours must have thought I was nuts), I suddenly noticed the name on the mailbox - MAGNUS TOLSTRUP!
Honestly, I started to hyper-ventilate and almost didn't know what to do. I kind of walked back and forth - up and down the street - for a while, but couldn't make myself leave, so decided finally that as odd as it might be to have a stranger knock on your door claiming to be a (potential) long-lost cousin, I had to knock. Unfortunately, no one was about and though both houses looked clearly inhabited, they were also both undergoing renovation work - and seemed to be missing porches, stairs and/or any other clear points of entry. As I was looking around, a fist-sized rock grabbed my attention, so I picked it up. It occurs to me that maybe it's the one I'll bring with me to Malden to reconnect Magnus with home.
Again, I started to leave, but couldn't quite make myself go - so, I sat down and wrote a (babbling, blithering) note to the house's inhabitants, telling them who I was, who my relations are & asking them to contact me if they are family and are interested. For now, other than camping in their yard, I guess it's all I can do.
Walking away I felt sad; felt some sort of loss...I guess some part of me thought that Mattis would be waiting for me there.

And, by the way, the name of the first photo is "Pilgrimage shoes on Tolstrupveien, Rekkevik, Norway (and the pilgrim in tears)".


Katie and Emir said...

Can you imagine coming home to find a note written in a foreign tongue, from a long-lost relative from the other side of the world (where thar be dragons)? Amazing stuff Sandy, just amazing. All those plans you made, all those moments of's all bearing fruit!

Katie and Emir said...

You want to know something else amazing? That looks like the house my Swedish grandfather lived in in Bunbury. I'm not sure what it is about the picture - it reminds me of my grandparents. I asked my Mum the other day, and she thinks her grandfather (the one who migrated from Sweden) was named Frank Augustson, and apparently he was a ship captain who sailed out here and decided to stay.

Looking at the photos, I wonder what a day in the life of Magnus Tolstrup is like? I hope he contacts you.

Max, Ebbie and the Fuzzheads said...

Wow.. Just.. WOW. Seriously amazing. You have really hit it rich haven't you? So exciting!

sharon said...

Ok, now I get the fragile thing.
That's all f$%^#ing amazing!!

jt said...