Sina’s Daughter

My birthday is in December and it always makes me think a little bit more about the reality of genealogy. Sometimes it seems like we deal so much with census and death records that we lose sight of the people our ancestors were. Today is/was my great-grandmother Olga’s birthday, she’d be 126 years old today. She was born Olga Matilda on December 30, 1888, in Aurskog, Akershus, Norway, and her father’s name is, well, a bit of a mystery.

When Olga was 3 years old, she immigrated to the US under the surname Sannes with her mother Hansine (Sina) Olsdatter Sannes. They lived in Howard, Miner, South Dakota, and Evanston, Cook, Illinois, before arriving in Lac Qui Parle County, Minnesota, where Sina married Johan Elstad when Olga was 9 years old. Olga considered Johan to be her father.

I never knew Olga, but I get the impression that she was very close-mouthed and a little cranky. In fact, most of her grandchildren didn’t even know that Johan wasn’t her biological father. I only knew that she had a different father than her younger siblings from talking to my oldest aunt about Olga.

I’ve tried hunting for information on Olga for years and after I learned a few years ago that Sina was born in Blaker, Akershus, Norway, I looked through Blaker’s digitized parish records for Olga and I thought I’d found her. The baptism record had the correct birthdate and the correct name Olga Matilda, but I couldn’t make heads or tails of the rest of it. Norwegian was worse than Greek to me and I didn’t see her mom Sina’s name anywhere in the record. I told myself I’d have someone translate it one day, in case it was my Olga. Then I became absorbed in something Konzen related and I forgot Olga’s record somewhere on my computer.

Then while looking through my Ancestry DNA matches this fall and wondering if I was ever going to get a confirmed match beside my father (I am glad that he’s a match), I realized that Ancestry now lets you search your DNA matches by surname or place name in their trees. I typed in “Konzen” one match (I’ll talk about that another time), “Sannes” no match, “Sumner” no match, “Ronglien” no match, and “Elstad” no match. That just sucked. All these people with Norwegian ancestry that “matched” me and we had no common surnames. Suddenly, I realized I was being an idiot and I’m not related to any Elstads except for Olga’s half-siblings and their descendants. I typed in Akershus, Norway, and Blaker, Akershus, Norway, and I messaged all 16 matches with a family tree containing those places. I explained that I didn’t see any common ancestors or surnames in their family trees (the public ones), but that maybe we were related through my great-grandmother Olga’s father or even through her mom Sina. I told the story of Olga and Sina arriving in the US alone and that I knew Sina’s parents were Ole Sannes and Karen Thui.

I was too excited about the possibility of a match to wait for a response, so I started looking through Norwegian parish records and searching the Norwegian digital archives again. I extended one side of my Norwegian family back into Norway and another generation, but nothing on Sina or Olga was that easy. I looked through every parish in Akershus county for Sina’s birth on March 8, 1868, and I finally found a Hansine Olsdatter born on that date to Ole Hansen and Karen Jacobsdatter Kroken in Svarstad. Was Sannes the last name of Olga’s father or just a name Sina chose for them? Or was this not her at all?

I looked for more children of Ole Hansen and Karen Jacobsdatter and I found a Karl Laurits Olsen and a Gudbrand Olsen. I matched these men up with a Karl Laurits Sannes and Gudbrand Sannes in the US and confirmed they were Sina’s brothers. Gudbrand, Karl Laurits, and Sina must have all decided on the last name Sannes for some reason. It could be that they all worked on the same farm called Sannes before they left for America. That’s still a mystery.

I revisited Olga’s baptism record and I could see the name Hansine Olsdatter in the section for parents, but I still couldn’t understand the rest of it. I searched through lots of information on Norwegian baptism records and had a few different translations done of the baptism record, but her father’s identity still is a mystery.

Olga’s baptism record reads “Born on December 30, 1988, and christened Olga Matilde on January 20, 1889. The father is listed as bachelor Hagbart Edvardsen Ringstad, cottar’s daughter maiden Hansine Olsdatter Kroken. Hansine gave the name of the father’s daughter as bachelor servant Ole Olsen Enerud. Father’s location: Vestre Aker. Mother’s location: cottar’s farm called Kroken. Father was born in 1864, mother was born in 1868. Godparents: Farmer’s wife Anna Kristiansdatter Myrvold, farmer’s daughter Bolette Hansdatter Nyhus, Edvin Kristian Olsen Kroken, farm hand Anders Johansen Myrvold, and servant Gulbrand Olsen Kroken. Birth was illegitimate. (The father’s 2nd illegitimate child (the 1st with cottar’s daughter Pauline Petersdatter Bakken, the child Petra (12th birth in 1888) born August 9, 1988))”

So is Hagbart Edvardsen Ringstad or Ole Olsen Enerud the father of Olga? I asked my translators if they’d ever seen anything like this in Norwegian parish records and they said they had not. Our conclusion was that Sina (Hansine) had told them that Ole was the father and they (being the church or her family or the men involved) believed that Hagbart was the father. The only thing that will really solve the mystery is DNA. Ole was the father of the illegitimate child Petra, daughter of Pauline Petersdatter Bakken, I’m currently tracing both Hagbart and Ole’s family trees to find a descendant so I can hopefully compare DNA results with them.

Really, it makes sense why Olga wasn’t a very cheerful and happy person. She was born into such an odd situation where it wasn’t clear who her father was. Her half-siblings from her mom’s marriage to Johan Elstad were prettier and more petite than Olga. I can understand how the entire thing can make someone unhappy and bitter. I’ve never had a bad impression of Olga, but now I have even more sympathy with her. As much of a mess that her birth is on paper, I’m sure it was a much bigger mess in real life. Happy 126th birthday, Olga! I like to think she’d appreciate that people today are trying to understand her life.


The Pitz Family Continued

The next time I went to the local Family History Center, I found the record of Catherine Rouller Pitz’s (my 3rd great grandmother) birth on August 7,1793, in an Alsdorf, Germany film.  Alsdorf and Mettendorf are about 13 miles apart.  Her parents were Peter Rouller and Susanna Hansen and I found baptism records for three of Catherine’s siblings.  Her sister Margaretha Rouller was born in 1782, her sister Maria Catherine Rouller was born in 1786, and her brother Joannes Rouller was born in 1789.

In the Mettendorf films, I found George/Gregory Pitz’s birth (Catherine Pitz Konzen’s father) and his marriage to Catherine Rouller in 1819.  After Catherine Rouller died in 1833, I found a record of his marriage to Catherine Markes in 1834.  George/Gregory Pitz – I usually call him George – was the son of Anna Maria Fandel and Theodore Pitz.

I haven’t come across Theodore’s birth or death records yet, but I did find their marriage on January 9, 1782 in Mettendorf.  I came across records for the births of their following children: Maria Pitz (born in 1782), Catherine Pitz (born in 1784), Margaretha Pitz (born in 1788 ), and Mathias Pitz (born in 1790).  Anna Maria Fandel died in 1831 and was buried on February 3, 1831.  I also discovered from Anna Maria Fandel’s death record that she was born in Bettingen, Germany.

In 1841, I found confirmation records of Catherine Pitz Konzen and her brothers Peter and Michael Pitz.  There are many more Pitzes in the films to connect to our Pitz family and more records to still search through.  I’m not done looking through the Mettendorf and Alsdorf films, all the films are long and full of possible relatives and handwriting that is difficult to read.

Pitz, Pütz, Puetz – However You Spell It, It’s All Relative

I’ve been working on my Pitz side of my family for a few years, but it’s taken a while for me to get anywhere with them. My 2nd great grandparents are Catherine Pitz and Joannes Konzen, they were both born in Germany and immigrated to the US. They were married on 12/22/1855 in Dubuque County, Iowa, and they moved to Chickasaw County by 1858 where they lived for the rest of their lives. From Catherine’s obituary I discovered that her maiden name was Pitz and she had a half-brother John Pitz who also lived in New Hampton, Chickasaw, Iowa. Then I discovered from John/Joannes Pitz’s obituary that he was born in Mettendorf, Germany. From there I looked through Tom Pick’s microfilm index (His index is priceless, in case I haven’t said that before) and found Catherine and Joannes listed as children of Gregorius Pütz.

Since I found that information I’ve never been able to find a microfilm for Mettendorf that looked like it would have their birth information on it. I don’t know if Family Search recently added some microfilms or added new descriptions to some of them, but recently I ran across some indexes of German parish records in World Vital Records. And in those records I found indexes of birth records for Catherine Pitz and much of her family in Mettendorf. Each indexed record included the number of the microfilm they had been indexed from and that helped me determine which microfilms of Mettendorf to order from Family Search.

In the first film I looked through I found the jackpot – or at least that’s what it felt like to me. I found a ton of Pitzes/Pützes/Puetzes, however you want to spell it. In my 2nd great grandmother Catherine Pitz Konzen’s birth record in 1828, I discovered that her brother Peter was her twin. I’d wondered about that possibility before, but I didn’t have proof of their real birth dates until I looked through that Mettendorf film.

Catherine and Peter weren’t the only twins in their family. The first children born to their parents Catherine Rouller and Gregory Pitz (also seen as George in records) in 1820 were a set of twins – Anna Maria and Michael Pitz. Unfortunately, Anna Maria and Michael both died in 1820, less than a month after their births. I also found birth records for Catherine Rouller and Gregory Pitz’s sons Michael (1821) and Joannes (1824). Then I found the record of Catherine Rouller Pitz’s death in February 1833.

George Pitz’s sister Catherine Pitz gave birth to an illegitimate son named Joannes Pitz in 1808. Later that year she married Joannes’s father Theodore Jutz and Joannes Pitz was legitimized to Joannes Jutz. Catherine Pitz and Theodore Jutz had another son named Joannes Jutz in 1809 and a son named Joannes Hugo Jutz in 1812. And I discovered that Michael Pitz, son of Catherine Rouller and Gregory Pitz, married Anna Maria Kohn in 1855 in Mettendorf.

There were many other Pitzes in the records that I can’t connect to our family tree, yet. In the near future, I’ll write about the other Mettendorf and Alsdorf (Catherine Rouller Pitz’s hometown) records that I also found.