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A note about how Norwegians got their names

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The Kjos Family Album

This is the valley where Sissel and her family lived: Valdres in Vang in Oppeland in Norway. Trond Olsen farmed the land for a wealthy man, Kjøs, and Sigrid did housework for them. When leaving Norway, Trond's family gave its identifying name as Kjøseie - literally "owned by Kjøs."

Anne, Sissel's oldest sister, was the first in the family to emigrate to America in 1902.
She sent money for them to folow in 1905.

The man in the bowler in the second row, 1st on the left, is Trond Olsen, Sissel's father. Quite probably her two brothers, Big Ole and Little Ole are also in the photo - but - who knows?


Anne married a Hagen and had several children. Johnny was the oldest and is shown here in a picture taken on March 15, 1912, in a one room school in North Dakota. Johnny is the one in the front row with his hand in his pocket. One of the problems written on the blackboard behind the children says:
"Fourth Arithmetic:
9) Find the sum of: 6 2/3 + 2 2/7 + 4 4/15." 
(In those days long, long before calculators...!!)

And here they are again. Outside in the cold, in front of their little one room schoolhouse, with their teacher. That has to be little Johnny with his hands in his pockets again.

Sissel kept many postcards sent to her (Sidsel Kjos, Fessenden, NoDak). This is just one of them. Most of them are really quite funny - both in content and in the blending of two languages in one sentence. That's typical of immigrants - the learning of new words that one does not know in the old language from the country left behind.  Presumably the one is the middle is "Little Ole."
He was the only other sibling who had red hair like Sissel.


Left to right: Sissel, Dorothy, Sigrid.
Sigrid was Sissel's youngest sister and Dorothy was Sigrid's daughter. Sissel and Sigrid married two of the Grønvold brothers: Sissel married Ole and Sigrid married Jacob - who took the name Jack.
Sigrid died young - leaving Dorothy not much after this picture was taken. Ole and Sissel took Dorothy.

Sissel's sister Margit, who took the name Mary. Her married name was Casey, as she married Ben Casey and lived in California.


They came to America and worked however they could - in whatever capacity. They worked long and hard - mostly in kitchens and for families - but they were in America and proud of it. The hard economic times of Norway were behind them.


Two of the Letters to "Dear Sister Sissel" from "Your Loving Sister Sigrid"
August, 1928 and August, 1929
- Click on the letters to open a larger view -
(then , once open, click on the arrowed box to make it even larger)
Gathered around the Majestic for warmth
Probably Sissel's sister, Mary, in the corner
Either after a day in the fields and kitchens
or maybe for a coffee break during the day.

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