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52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #47 and 48—Anders Bentsen and Anne Larsdatter

Anders Bentsen was the last Bentsen ancestor of mine who did not immigrate to America. He was also the man from whom my mother’s family took their surname when they did move to the United States from Norway. Because most Norwegians of his time did not have surnames, the family had to choose one when they immigrated. In Norway, they were known simply by their father’s name (a patronymic) plus the name of farm where they lived.

Anders was the son of Bent Iversen. Thus, his patronymic name was Bentsen, or Bent’s son. When Anders’ son Lorenz Nikolai and his grandson Ole Jørgen crossed the pond, they both decided to call themselves Bentsen, as their patriarch had, instead of using their own patronymic names, Andersen and Lorenzen.

Anders was born October 16, 1823, perhaps at the Norwegian coastal city of Bergen. By 1844 he had relocated north to the cod fishing area of Nordland, Norway, north of the Arctic Circle. He lived in Bø parish on one of the islands in the Vesterålen District and worked as a cottager. He fished, too, and sometimes worked on a whaling ship. One time they harpooned a huge whale off the north coast of Norway. It started pulling them toward Russia so they cut the line and let it go.

Anders’ daughter Christina Andrea was born at Bø on August 28, 1851. Anders finally married her mother, Anne Larsdatter, a couple of months later on October 24, 1851. They later had a son, Lorenz Nikolai, born on July 5, 1854 on Fjærvold farm.

In 1857, life for Anders and Anne took a terrible turn. On April 17 of that year, Anders reported the February 25 birth of an unnamed stillborn son. The following fall, Anders came down with a terrible fever.

He never recovered. Anders passed away from the fever on September 11, 1857 at the age of thirty-three. He was later buried in Bø parish on October 18. He left behind a widow, a six-year-old daughter, and a three-year-old son. That son grew up and emigrated to America.

Although Anders died young, Bentsen descendants live across the United States today.

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