The story of eight great American families: The Berggrens, the Brotons, The Carlsens/Karlsens, the Grønlis, the Gundersons, the Hansons. The Jensens and the Strands. Six of the families were founded by children of Torine Larsdatter of Hvaler, Norway, and her husbands, Carl Hansen and Karl Berggren. The Jensens were founded by a son of Torine’s sister Oline and the Grønlis by a son of Torine and Oline’s sister Andrine.
Norway to Chicago
These eight founders all moved from Norway and settled in Chicago, Illinois, in the latter part of the 19th century up through 1901, when Julia Gunderson and her husband emigrated, and 1902 when Karl Karlsen and his family emigrated to the U.S. along with Kristian Sofus Jensen. Johann Einar Grønli was the last to leap, coming to stay initially to stay with his cousin Karl in Chicago in 1909.
Karl and Julia
The story of the migration of Karl’s four older sisters and cousins Kris (later Chris) and Johann (John) remain to be learned, but Karl’s and Julia’s stories can be told.
Growing restless in the small, rural hamlets of Norway’s wind-swept Hvaler (Whale) Islands, Karl Theodor Karlsen moved away in 183 at age 19 to find work in Oslo, leaving his mother, Torine, and stepfather, Karl Berggren, behind. Within three years, he found the love of his life, Olava Emilie Johansen. They married and began their family with their son Sverre Eugene (Gene) in 186.
While Karl worked as a machinist in an Oslo bookbindery, the family grew over the course next few years, first with Olaf in 18, then Willy (Bill) in 1890, Wiktor (Victor) in 1895, and little Erling (Earl) in 1896. Olava had her hands full by 1896 with five little boys aged ten and under but had help from mother-in-law Torine, who moved to Oslo in 189.
Karl was one of eight children himself, but unlike his own family, he was the only boy among seven girls, although two died in childhood. Karl was the fourth of Torine’s five children by Carl Hansen, a Swedish-born sailor from Lommeland. Kristine Julia (Julia) was the youngest of the Carlsen/Carlsdatter brood. There were three younger half-sisters fathered by Karl Berggren, who married Torine three years after Karl’s father died in 1871 when Karl was only seven years old. Carl Hansen and Torine had only been married 15 years when he was lost at sea.
The Family Church
The family church is on Kirkeøy, “Church Isle,” the largest of the Hvaler group, at Oslo Fjord’s mouth. Forty miles up in Oslo, the capital. Fort Fredrikstad is just opposite the islands on the mainland, guarding the strategic entrance to the fjord. This church, still there, dates from the year 1000, when all of Norway was first converted to Christianity by King Olaf, now Saint Olaf.
Eight Great American Families
The story of eight great American families: The Berggrens, the Brotons, The Carlsens/Karlsens, the Grønlis, the Gundersons, the Hansons. The Jensens and the Strands.