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52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #51 & 52—Knud Sjursen and Brita Kristoffersdatter

Knud and Brita, my third great-grandparents, were rebels.

Both were born in the Hordaland District of Norway, but they fled their homes so they could marry. She was born into a higher-status family than he, and that was a barrier to their marriage. No matter. Together they went north to Nordland, and they did as they pleased.

Knud Sjursen was born on February 23, 1816 at Fenne Farm in the Voss Municipality of Hordaland. He was baptized two days later in the Vangen parish. His parents were Sjur Mathissen and Ingebor Knudsdatter. It seems he was named for his maternal grandfather.

Brita, the daughter of Christopher Monsen and Martha Olsdatter, was born just a few weeks before Knud, on January 9, 1816, at Oppeim, also in the Voss Municipality. She was baptized a month later, on February 2, 1816, at Voss.

Both Knud and Brita followed the same rites of passage as most other Norwegian youths of their time. They received their smallpox vaccinations and were confirmed in the Lutheran church.

By 1842, when they were 26 years old, they had both left their families and made their way to the distant island of Øksnes in the Vesterålen District of Nordland. Knud found work on the Sorsand farm, and Brita was on the Vottestad farm. They got married in Øksnes parish on July 11, 1842. Together they went on to have six children:

  1. Sivert Knudsen (1843-1907), my second great-grandfather,
  2. Kristoffer Knudsen (b. about 1844),
  3. Ingeborg Knudsdatter (b. about 1846),
  4. Elias Knudsen (b. about 1849),
  5. Karoline Knudsdatter (b. about 1853),
  6. Karl Knudsen (b. about 1860).

By 1865, the family had moved on to the Bjorndal farm in the Hadsel Municipality of Vesterålen. Knud worked as a tenant farmer. He and Brita stayed there for the rest of their lives and watched their family grow. On July 15, 1866, they served as godparents for their son Sivert’s first child, Kaspara Helmine Sivertsdatter at Øksnes.

After a lifetime together, Knud was the first to pass away. He died on February 24, 1885, the day after his 69th birthday. He was buried two months later, on April 12, 1885 in the Eidsfjord parish of Nordland.

Brita outlived him by just two years. She died on January 2, 1887, a week before what would have been her 71st birthday. She was buried the following spring, on May 30, also at Eidsfjord parish.

Knud and Brita had successfully defied their families to be together. Their marriage lasted 42 years.

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