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They Weren’t Wealthy

I continue working to learn about the lives of my third great-grandparents, Johan Larsen and Sara Andrina Möllersdatter, who lived in Nordland, Norway. Johan was a farmer who also fished during the cod season.

Did Johan own a farm? Probably not, because the family seems to have moved around some. Many people at the time migrated from farm to farm to follow work opportunities. Folks like Johan and Sara worked hard to make ends meet and provide for their family.

During their years together, they lived on farms in at least two municipalities in Nordland:

  1. Berfjorden, Herøy. Sara was born here in 1816.
  2. Slapøen, Herøy. Johan was born here in 1824. Daughters Johanna and Bergitta were also born here in 1845 and 1848, respectively.
  3. Titternes, Dønnes. Daughter Karen (my great-great grandmother) was born here in 1851.
  4. Skeim/Skei, Dønnes. Son Ludvig was born here in 1855. Daughters Anne and Mortine were born here in 1859 and 1863. Johan was working as a cottager on this farm when he died in a fishing accident in 1876. Sara still lived on this farm at the time of her death in 1880.

This family may not have had much wealth. Homes at the time consisted of small buildings with grass roofs. During the short growing season, residents in the area raised a few crops and perhaps some sheep.

The father, like many of his neighbors, would go north to earn some additional income during the fishing season. Eventually, his daughter Karen relocated there and married a man, Lorents Nikolai “Nick” Bentsen, who pursued the same means a making a living. When Karen and Nick’s son, Ole, set off for America in search of a better life, they followed him in 1905. The family ultimately ended up farming in Montana.

Johan and Sara did not live to see this happen. They spent their days scratching out a living in Norway the same way their parents had. They did not know that their daughter and son-in-law had achieved the American dream of owning land.

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