Christensen Family of Manawatu, NZ

The Norwegian Ancestors of Anders Christian Christensen

Gamle Aker Church (left side of picture) and the surrounding area, as it was in 1841, the year following Anders' baptism there. This painting, by Joachim Frich, shows the view from Kopehaugen, or Stensparken as it is known today.

See also pedigree charts for: Anders Christian Christensen ; Marie Nilsdotter

When Anders Christian Christensen was naturalised in Palmerston North, New Zealand, on 30 December 1892, he stated only that he had been born in Christiania (Oslo), Norway. He also described himself as 'Gentleman', which has tended to strike descendants as a bit odd. Little else had been known for certain of his background, and research from New Zealand had never seemed to get anywhere.

Descendents of Anders Christian Christensen and Marie Nilsdotter have also tended to think of A.C. Christiansen as "Anders." Earlier Norwegian records on the other hand, sometimes refer to him as "Kristian." So he may well have been commonly referred to as "Kristian/Christian", but the family situation has resulted in this information not being handed down.

We just didn't seem to have enough information to go on and the prospect of getting anywhere from New Zealand seemed rather daunting. However, the chance contact between descendant Val Burr and Carol Slattum of Oslo (who had been researching a man who came to NZ), broke the ice - with the help of Norway's National Archives.

With some difficulty (suggesting it would have been enormously difficult for us), Carol managed to discover that "Anders Christian" was born  on 19 December 1839 at Gronland, in Vestre Aker, Norway. He was the illegitimate son of Randine Pedersdatter, Bogstad farm, an unmarried woman aged 23. His father was Christen Andersen, of Christiania, a bachelor whose age was not given. We can only wonder at the circumstances that led to this situation, but can note that he did, however, receive his father's surname.

"Anders Christian Christensen" was baptised at Aker church on 8 June 1840, with his God Parents being Sorine Hermansdatter, Anne Karina Henriksdatter, Even Eriksen and Anders Jensen. The information for the christening was passed to the minister by Sorine Hermansdatter Holmen farm.

The above information came from the Aker church records: MINI 16 1827-1841 3/6 (i.e. 3rd film of 6). Prior to the opening of Vestre Aker church in 1855, its congregation attended Aker church. When Vestre Aker and Ostre Aker churches opened, it became 'Gamle (old) Aker kirke.' This church had been built in around 1100, and all three churches remain in use.

"Anders Christian Christensen" was confirmed on 1 October 1854 at the Vestre Aker church. He was described as living at Holmen farm, and as being the son of Randine Pedersdatter (who may still not have been married to anyone yet) and musketeer Christen Andersen. Evidently Christen was a military man of some sort, and presumably this involved the use of muskets. Anders was described as being 'Above Average' in his grades for his confirmation. This information came from the Vestre Aker church records: MINI 1 1853-1858 1/6, p. 31, no. 13.

Carol wondered if his parents had ever married, and so searched the 'Lysing' records (the same as the English 'banns'), where the pending marriage was announced from the pulpit several Sundays before the marriage, to ensure anyone opposing the marriage had time to speak out against it. Eventually she found the pending marriage at Aker church of a bachelor named Christen Andersen to a woman named Lisbet Knudsdatter of Stensrud. Parts of the record were illegible, however, this man was born at Northern ??, on 8 October (1912?), and was baptised on 1 November 1812. Lisbet was born on 8 September 1818 (seemingly at Oier) and was confirmed in 1833. The couple's pending marriage was announced on 28 March, and the 4th and 11th of April 1841. They were married on 1 June 1841. This source was: Aker church records, Lysn 1 1834-42 4/5 - no page number. There is, of course, no certainty at present that this is the same Christen Andersen who fathered Anders.

There is probably no easy way to find when Anders and Marie found their way to the Nes area. However, the 1865 Census (entry no: 226 20) indicates that Marie lived in Odalen (Søndre Odalen), in Hedmark County,  Norway, before her marriage. She was described as being aged 26, of Swedish birth and as running the household of her brother Johannes Nilson (entry no: 225 19), a miller aged 29, and his apprentice, Karl Pedersen (entry no: 227 21), aged 24 and also a Swede.

"Kristian Kristensen" (aged 27) appears in the 1865 Census (entry no: 5347 4) as living on the farm Sæterstøen (Seterstøa), at Næs (now Nes), Akerhus County, Norway, and as being a baker who had been born in Christiania. Seterstøa in these times consisted of a railway station and some shops. Nowadays, while the station (alone) survives, trains no longer stop there and while the site of the house/cottage where the couple will have lived is known, it is long gone.

Carol's next stop was the Nes church records. Descendants have seen the Nes church entry before, but have been baffled by the quality of the original ink used. Carol had the good fortune to sight the original, however. This revealed that Anders Christian Christensen, a bachelor who was a baker and miller, had married the previously unmarried "Maria Nilsdatter" on 12 July 1868 at Nes church. 

At this time, his place of residence was "Seterstuen" (Seterstøa), and he had been born in the Vestre Aker area. He was aged 28 and his father was "Christen Andersen" of "Holmen" in Vestre Aker.

"Maria Nilsdatter" had been born (on 1 June 1840) at what appeared to be "Byer" in "Bruunskog", Varmland, Sweden. Her father was named only as "Nils" of "Brukkeskog." We know from Swedish sources that these are Nils Jonsson of Byn, Brunskog, Varmland.

Witnesses to the marriage at Nes Church were Andreas Jensen Vaenevold and Peder Olsen Fossum farm. The lysning (banns) had occurred on 24 and 31 May and 7 June 1868, with the bridegroom having asked for the lysning to be done. Both had been vaccinated for smallpox. In the final column on the page, which is almost never used unless a bride or groom has previously been married is the comment "Presteattest for brudgom og brud prestert." Usually it is used where one or both have been married before and how these marriages ended, or if there are matters relating to inheritance to be dealt with. Possibly, though, the ministers were swearing that the one (bride or groom?) they knew had not been married before. The source is: Nes church records: MINI 8 1859-1874 12/18, p. 308, no. 9

Exactly two months after the couple married, "Marthea Christiana" came into the world. Her parents were recorded as Anders Christian Christensen, a baker of Vaenevold lille, and his wife "Marie Nilsdatter." Her Godparents were recorded at Indiana Christensdatter Aulie (an unmarried woman), Marie Engebregtesdatter, the child's father, Erik Sørensen the same, and Christian Eriksen. The baby was not baptised at home (indicating she wasn't expected to die soon after birth. She was in fact baptised on 11 October 1868. The source is: Nes church records: MINI 8 1859-1874 6/18, p. 167, (not numbered).

It is possible some of the concerns and variations from the norm relate to the couple's marriage when Marie was in an advanced state of pregnancy. We will never know. Adding to the things that have caused confusion for descendants, Anders, who is described on his death certificate as being aged 70 when he died on 16 August 1907, proves to in fact have been aged 69.

Interestingly, Martha/Annie's date of birth was traditionally given as 12 September 1869, presumably due to its very close proximity to the wedding date and sensitivities that developed after they settled in New Zealand. This 'unusually short gestation' predicament is not an unusual situation amongst people from this grouping. For example, the Johansens who raised Snowy, married just days before boarding the North Star in October 1870, and their first child was born at sea a month later.

The Emigration records for Christiania relating to the steamer North Star, upon which the New Zealand-bound party left Christiania on 6 October 1870, show the family as entries 2128A, 2128B and 2128C. (Note that NZ records give the departure date as 5/10/1870, but this might relate to differing interpretations of port clearance times). They are listed as Kristian Kristensen (33) and Marie Nilsdatter [sic] (30) and their daughter Martha (2). These records indicate that the family came from Næs (now Nes) in Romerike. 

Carol has attempted to learn the fate of Randine Pedersdatter, and has found only one in the 1865 Census. This one was the wife of a cotter who owned no land of his own, but who lived on the Stovner nedre farm. This farm was taken in 1965 by the city of Oslo for a housing subdivision, and the elementary and junior schools are where the main farm houses were. Woods that grew on a fairly steep hill on the farm were removed and, by coincidence, Carol lives in one of the houses built where these woods once were. Randine Pedersdatter's husband, Johan Nilsen, worked in a factory that made matches. They had a 10-year-old daughter named Jonette Johansdatter. Of course, we do not know if this is the same Randine. 

Carol adds that Bogstad farm, where Randine originated, is now a tourist attraction. People can go on guided tours through it before Christmas and see how wealthy people decorated their homes in the 1800s.

Carol thinks that since Randine was not living with her parents at the time of her confirmation, she had possibly been sent to work for a richer farmer. She could not find any indication that there was a husmann farm called "Bogstadeie", as it is listed in Anders' baptism record. She feels, therefore, that Randine worked at the main house and lived in the servants' quarters at Bogstad.

After starting out as a country summer home for a rich man in the 1600's, Bogstad became the home of some of the most important people in Norway. One owner became prime minister. In the period that Randine would have worked there, they had visits from kings and queens of France and Sweden, as well as many other important people.

Carol thinks that it must have been very hard for Randine when she became pregnant. The minister who wrote the baptismal record was evidently quite occupied with her, writing her name, age, and "address" and even stating something quite unusual - that she had given birth in Gronland, a place where the working class and the unemployed lived - a slum area. And despite this, he doesn't bother to record Christen's status (bachelor, married or widower), occupation, or place of residence, as was customary.  Carol wonders where Randine lived after Anders was born.  It looks like the people at Holmen farm took him in, but did they also take in Randine - or did she give up her child and fend for herself?

Carol has a friend who lives across the farmyard from the East Holmen farm. Unfortunately, the actual places Anders and Christen (according to Anders' marriage record) lived at, are not recorded.  The farm was divided in 1820 between two brothers, resulting in East Holmen farm and West Holman farm, the latter house being newer and fancier.

So Randine was born in Norderhov, just south, south east from Honefoss and about one hour's drive north, north west from Oslo. Two of Randine's godfathers lived at Pjaaken farm in 1817. And, ironically, that is where Carol’s great-great-great grandfather also lived with his family.  So these people and Carol’s family knew each other – and perhaps were even related!! Coincidentally, Pjaaken farm also belonged to the minister of Norderhov church.  

Carol has also been able to visit the State Archives in Kongsberg, where she looked up Randine's parents' marriage in the actual church book, as the microfilm was too light to read. The Norderhov church records  (Ref: MINI  8  1814-1833  page 379, nr. 4) revealed the marriage in Norderhov church, on July 28, 1814, of farmer bachelor Peder Jonsen Rødningen (aged 21) of this church region (i.e. Norderhov), to servant girl Ingeborg Andersdatter Schjørvold (aged 29) also of this church region.  The witnesses were: farmer Knud Svarverud and farmer Peder Svarverud.  Carol found that there were five possible churches in the area to which the couple may have belonged. 

She then found Peder Joensen, age 8, living at Rødningen in the census of 1801, with his stepfather, Ole Fridericsen (aged 34), a farmer. Also living on the farm was his mother Ragnil Amundsdatter (aged 39) - who had married for a second time - and her four children: Pernilla 13, Anne 11, and Marta 5, all with the surnames Joensdatter, and the aforementioned son Peder, the future father of Randine.  Now she is on the trail of Ingeborg Andersdatter, and had also someone who appeared to be a brother of Peder’s. This was Jon Jonsen Rødningsand (aged 23), who was recorded in the Norderhov church records as moving on 10 February 1815 from Norderhov to Gran in Hadeland. (Ref: MIMI 7 1814-1833 9/12 page 572 nr. 8)

Meanwhile, back in New Zealand, we realise why it was so hard for us to get anywhere on this research and we express our considerable thanks to Carol for her contribution to the rediscovery of this portion of our family heritage.

Last Updated 9/5/2001

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